Oh and he suddenly “committed suicide” right after reporters started interviewing him.
Talk about coincidences.
Courtesy of The Daily Beast:
Longtime Republican activist Peter W. Smith raised at least $100,000 from unidentified donors for a “scholarship fund…for Russian students” as part of an effort to obtain emails stolen by hackers from Hillary Clinton ahead of the 2016 presidential election, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Smith’s activities were first reported by the Journal in 2017, when federal investigators first began zeroing in on his financial transactions to determine whether he had paid any members of the Russian government as part of the effort. Smith’s activities have reportedly warranted special scrutiny because the opposition researcher himself is said to have told acquaintances he was working with Michael Flynn, who was then a top adviser to candidate-Trump and later went on to become one of the first former Trump aides to be indicted in Mueller’s ongoing Russia investigation.
New details revealed by the Journal on Sunday suggest Smith’s activities were far more extensive than previously known and may very well have involved Russian figures. Smith is said to have collected at least $100,000 from four wealthy donors and gone to great lengths to keep their identities secret, using encrypted email accounts and having his associates communicate with him by using the “Draft” folder in a Gmail account they all shared under the pseudonym “Robert Tyler.” Another $50,000 that went toward the so-called “Clinton Email Reconnaissance Initiative” was provided by Smith himself, according to the report, though it was not immediately clear if he acquired the money from other individuals.
One email reportedly referenced plans to give part of the money raised to a scholarship fund for Russian students. “This $100k total with the $50k received from you will allow us to fund the Washington Scholarship Fund for the Russian students for the promised $150K,” the Journal quoted the email as saying. The writer was identified only as “Rob,” and there does not appear to be any scholarship fund with that name offering assistance to Russian students. The email went on to include the cryptic message: “The students are very pleased with the email releases they have seen, and are thrilled with their educational advancement opportunities.” The email reportedly came shortly after WikiLeaks began releasing hacked Democratic emails.
Unidentified donors, encrypted emails, a mysterious scholarship for Russian students, and a seemingly coordinated effort with Wikileaks, sounds kind of like one of those spy novels.
You don’t quite think so?
Well let’s add this detail from a July 2017 Chicago Tribune article:
In mid-May, in a room at a Rochester hotel used almost exclusively by Mayo Clinic patients and relatives, Peter W. Smith, 81, left a carefully prepared file of documents, including a statement police called a suicide note in which he said he was in ill health and a life insurance policy was expiring.
Days earlier, the financier from suburban Lake Forest gave an interview to the Journal about his quest, and it began publishing stories about his efforts in late June. The Journal also reported it had seen emails written by Smith showing his team considered retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, then a top adviser to Republican Donald Trump’s campaign, an ally. Flynn briefly was President Trump’s national security adviser and resigned after it was determined he had failed to disclose contacts with Russia.
At the time, the newspaper reported Smith’s May 14 death came about 10 days after he granted the interview. Mystery shrouded how and where he had died, but the lead reporter on the stories said on a podcast he had no reason to believe the death was the result of foul play and that Smith likely had died of natural causes.
However, the Chicago Tribune obtained a Minnesota state death record filed in Olmsted County saying Smith committed suicide in a hotel near the Mayo Clinic at 1:17 p.m. on Sunday, May 14. He was found with a bag over his head with a source of helium attached. A medical examiner’s report gives the same account, without specifying the time, and a report from Rochester police further details his suicide.
In the note recovered by police, Smith apologized to authorities and said that “NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER” was involved in his death. He wrote that he was taking his own life because of a “RECENT BAD TURN IN HEALTH SINCE JANUARY, 2017” and timing related “TO LIFE INSURANCE OF $5 MILLION EXPIRING.”
How about now?
Methinks that Robert Mueller has likely been taking a good hard look at this case as well.
One can only imagine what he might have already found.