And the other shoe just dropped. One day after it was revealed that Republican strategist Peter W. Smith sought to collude with Russian hackers over Hillary Clinton’s emails and promised to deliver those emails to Donald Trump adviser Michael Flynn, more details are surfacing about Smith’s operation. He also cited Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, and other Trump advisers as part of his recruitment efforts. Oh and by the way, Smith is now suddenly dead.
Peter Smith claimed he was running his own operation, but as the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, Smith told others that he would deliver hacked emails to Michael Flynn if he could get his hands on them. But today, the WSJ is reporting (link) that Smith also put together what it refers to as a “recruitment document” which included the names of Flynn, Bannon, Conway, and fellow Trump adviser Sam Clovis. Bannon and Conway are denying any involvement with Smith. Based on the list, it’s not entirely clear who was supposed to have been recruiting whom.
Two things stand out here. One is that Peter Smith died ten days after he spoke with the WSJ for this story. He was eighty-one years old, but neither WSJ report states his cause of death. Was this a deathbed confession? Was it a coincidence? Did something happen to him as a result of blabbing about the story? These questions need answered in short order. Palmer Report is actively researching the nature of Smith’s demise as we speak. But there’s another aspect of this story that stands out.
As we pointed out yesterday, the Wall Street Journal’s first story on Smith seemed rushed and half finished, as if the newspaper was trying to hurry up and get something out the door before a competing news outlet dropped a bigger collusion bomb. Sure enough, the WSJ has now published an additional story on Smith just twenty-four hours later, suggesting that it’s releasing pieces of the story as quickly as it can finish them. This tells us that the WSJ has more coming on the Smith story, and that one of the major competing newspapers has an imminent Trump-Russia collusion story of its own.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report