Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
Peter Smith, a GOP operative, tried to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails from believed to be Russian hackers during the 2016 campaign, according to a Wall Street Journal reportpublished in June 2017. This finding was especially significant because Smith appeared to have ties to Michael Flynn, an adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump who briefly became national security adviser.
While this thread in the Russia investigation has largely remained dormant since the initial reports, a new article from BuzzFeed on Friday breathed new life into the potentially crucial story. According to the report, Smith made “suspicious” money transfers in his effort to secure the emails:
Just a day after he finished a report suggesting he was working with Trump campaign officials, for example, he transferred $9,500 from an account he had set up to fund the email project to his personal account, later taking out more than $4,900 in cash. According to a person with direct knowledge of Smith’s project, the Republican operative stated that he was prepared to pay hackers “many thousands of dollars” for Clinton’s emails — and ultimately did so.
His bank, Northern Trust, reportedly found records of $140,000 of suspicious transfers in his accounts, according to BuzzFeed.
Smith died on May 14 in 2017, about 10 days after the Journal spoke with him for its article. Flynn, who was fired by Trump after he lied to federal investigators about his contacts with Russian officials, has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is reportedly cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller.
According to the report, federal investigators, and the Senate Intelligence Committee are pursuing the financial documentation to see where it leads.
Cody Fenwick is a reporter and editor. Follow him on Twitter @codytfenwick.