The Russia connectionFollowing Peter Smith's money

Published 21 August 2018

Peter Smith, a GOP donor and operative who killed himself in May 2017 after a short illness, was determined to obtain Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails. He believed Russian government hackers had them. Buzzfeed News reports that Northern Trust, where Smith had a personal bank account, turned over ti the Justice Department documents showing 88 suspicious cash withdrawals totaling about $140,000 between January 2016 and April 2017. The FBI and Senate Intelligence Committee investigators suspect Smith used some of the cash to fund his Clinton email operation and pay the Russian government hackers.

BuzzFeed News reports now-deceased GOP donor and operative Peter W. Smith conducted some suspicious financial transactions around the same time he thought he was getting closer to obtaining Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails from Russian hackers. 

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.

A quick refresher from Lawfare:

Peter Smith, a longtime Republican donor and political operative, had actively opposed the Clintons since the 1990s, reportedly paying thousands of dollars to promote stories about Bill Clinton’s alleged extramarital affairs. According to the Wall Street Journal, Smith began an effort to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails during the 2016 presidential campaign, including from people he believed to be hackers with possible connections to the Russian government. Smith appeared to be particularly interested in 33,000 personal emails that Hillary Clinton allegedly deleted from her private server while serving as secretary of state. Ten days after his interview with the Journal, Smith died in what authorities deemed a suicide.