GOP operative who hunted for Hillary Clinton's emails killed himself

Cheryl Sanders
July 14, 2017

A published report says a former private equity adviser and Republican operative who died soon after telling The Wall Street Journal he tried during the 2016 presidential election to obtain Hillary Clinton's emails from Russian hackers killed himself.

Thursday was the first that Wall Street Journal reporter Shane Harris learned of the circumstances surrounding his death.

According to the report, Smith killed himself in a hotel room in Rochester, Minnesota on May 14, 2017 - 10 days after speaking to the Journal. He wrote that he had chose to kill himself because of a "RECENT BAD TURN IN HEALTH SINCE JANUARY, 2017" and had based his timing partly on "LIFE INSURANCE OF $5 MILLION EXPIRING". Smith's former associates said he was suffering from health issues and frequently complained of heart problems.


Smith's cause of death is listed as "asphyxiation due to displacement of oxygen in confined space with helium", according to the Tribune.

Smith predicted in a blog before his death that "As attention turns to global affairs, as it will shortly, the Russian interference story will die of its own weight".

Authorities also found a receipt from a local Walmart for a helium tank and pliers. According to the Journal, Smith told people he had been working independently but was coordinating with Flynn in his search for the emails.


Smith's body was cremated, according to the Tribune. He reportedly shared with the Journal his discovery that two groups of Russian hackers, among others, claimed to have Clinton's missing emails.

Details about Smith's unidentified illness were not immediately available, and the Mayo Clinic was barred from sharing whether he was a patient there. Flynn, who was sacked in February just weeks after starting in his role as national security adviser to Trump and making misleading comments about his conversations with Russia's US ambassador, has not commented on Smith's search for Clinton's e-mails, or any involvement Flynn himself may have had with Smith in the process.

The newspaper said it was not clear whether Flynn played any role in Smith's attempts to find Clinton's emails.


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