A Republican Party operative who sought to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails from Russian hackers reportedly committed suicide days after his interview with The Wall Street Journal, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Peter W. Smith, 81, was found dead on May 14 in a Rochester, Minnesota hotel room. The Tribune obtained a death certificate from the state indicating that Smith committed suicide in the hotel on that specific date.
Smith had “mounted an independent campaign to obtain emails he believed were stolen from Hillary Clinton’s private server, likely by Russian hackers,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
The Journal said it had seen emails Smith wrote showing that he and his team considered former national security adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to be an ally in their effort.
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) July 13, 2017
Smith said he created a team dedicated to finding the 30,000 emails Clinton claimed she deleted because she had “no reason to save them.”
In Smith’s hotel room, he left a “statement police called a suicide note in which he said he was in ill health and a life insurance policy was expiring,” the Tribune reported.
His death, which Rochester police chief Roger Peterson called “unusual,” had been described as “asphyxiation due to displacement of oxygen in confined space with helium,” according to records.
Smith was found by authorities with a bag over his head and a helium source attached to it.
“For years, former Democratic President Bill Clinton was Smith’s target. The wealthy businessman had a hand in exposing the ‘Troopergate’ allegations about Bill Clinton’s sex life,” the Tribune said.
“And he discussed financing a probe of a 1969 trip Bill Clinton took while in college to the Soviet Union, according to Salon magazine,” the newspaper added.
Smith wrote two blog posts dated May 13, one day before he was found dead.
One called into question the findings of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election.
In another post, Smith predicted: “As attention turns to international affairs, as it will shortly, the Russian interference story will die of its own weight.”
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