A Republican operative who committed suicide last year collected at least $100,000 from multiple donors in an effort to find emails he thought had been stolen from Hillary Clinton, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.
Peter W. Smith — who claimed in emails that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s son and consulting firm were helping with the effort to find Clinton’s emails — killed himself just days after speaking to the Wall Street Journal last year about his freelance investigatory work.
The Journal on Sunday said Smith’s work is of “expanding” and “intense interest to federal investigators” on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, with one business associated of Smith’s being interviewed three times by Mueller’s team this year and appearing before a grand jury.
Other associates of Smith’s have also been interviewed by investigators and before a grand jury “as recently as this summer,” the Journal said, and Smith’s estate has shared documents with Mueller’s team in addition to sharing them with congressional committees.
In addition to the $100,000-plus raised from “at least four” wealthy donors, Smith himself provided $50,000, the Journal reported.
According to an email account viewed by the Journal, Smith worked under the name “Robert Tyler,” shared the email account credentials with several people and at times asked that communications be saved and shared in the account’s “drafts” folder, presumably to avoid a trail of traceable metadata.
In one email from that account sent to Smith — of which the real sender is unknown — the donations were described as supporting a “Washington Scholarship Fund for the Russian students,” thought the Journal couldn’t verify any such fund.
That Oct. 11, 2016 email carried the subject “Wire Instructions—Clinton Email Reconnaissance Initiative” and read in part: “The students are very pleased with the email releases they have seen, and are thrilled with their educational advancement opportunities.”