News & Politics

Key GOP Operative with Ties to Trump Campaign May Have Had 'Advance Knowledge' of WikiLeaks' Email Dumps: Report

The Wall Street Journal found that the Mueller team is pursuing information about Peter Smith.

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The Wall Street Journal has doggedly pursued a strand of the Russa investigation that has largely flown under the radar as other avenues of investigation such as President Donald Trump's financial ties to Moscow and Paul Manafort's dealings in Ukraine garnered more attention. But a new report from the paper on Friday reveals that it not only the Journal that's been paying attention — Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team has zeroed in on the curious case of GOP operative Peter Smith as well.

Smith, who died shortly before the Journal first began reporting on his actions in 2017, was conducting a wide-ranging effort in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election to track down Hillary Clinton's emails. Along the way, he developed a relationship with disgraced Trump campaign aide and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. 

And now, the Journal says there is evidence that could tie Smith to WikiLeaks' dispersal of stolen emails from Hillary Clinton's Campaign Chair John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee.

"Investigators also have evidence that the late GOP activist Peter W. Smith may have had advance knowledge of details about the release of emails from a top Hillary Clinton campaign official by WikiLeaks, one person familiar with the matter said," the Journal wrote.

The article also says that the investigators have pursued related lines of inquiry, including examining Trump ally Roger Stone's and conservative pundit Jerome Corsi's connections with WikiLeaks.

New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait explained the significance of these potential connections:

If true, this would mean that Smith wasn’t merely attempting to get ahold of stolen Clinton emails. He got through to WikiLeaks and was, in some form, a channel of collusion between the hackers and the Trump campaign.

Flynn long ago started cooperating with Robert Mueller. So if Flynn discussed any of this information with Trump during the campaign, the special counsel probably knows about it.

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Cody Fenwick is a reporter and editor. Follow him on Twitter @codytfenwick.