Before the 2016 presidential election, Peter W. Smith, a GOP opposition researcher, sought emails deleted from Hillary Clinton’s private email server that he believed had been hacked by the Russians, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
The White House and an official for President Trump’s campaign deny that the operative worked for them.
However, during his investigation Smith told several of the people he interviewed in search of the emails that he was affiliated with Trump’s former campaign adviser Mike Flynn.
“He said, ‘I’m talking to Michael Flynn about this—if you find anything, can you let me know?’” said Eric York, a computer-security expert from Atlanta who searched hacker forums on Mr. Smith’s behalf for people who might have access to the emails.
The Journal added:
“The operation Mr. Smith described is consistent with information that has been examined by U.S. investigators probing Russian interference in the elections.
Those investigators have examined reports from intelligence agencies that describe Russian hackers discussing how to obtain emails from Mrs. Clinton’s server and then transmit them to Mr. Flynn via an intermediary, according to U.S. officials with knowledge of the intelligence.
It isn’t clear who that intermediary might have been or whether Mr. Smith’s operation was the one allegedly under discussion by the Russian hackers. The reports were compiled during the same period when Mr. Smith’s group was operating, according to the officials.”
The operative has died since speaking to the Journal, the paper reported.