Michael Flynn Ally Sought Hacked Hillary Clinton Emails, Says Report

Michael Flynn
Michael Flynn in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York City on December 12, 2016. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A GOP operative who claimed to be working with President Donald Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn embarked on an extensive online search for Hillary Clinton's emails before the 2016 election, suspecting they were hacked by Russia.

Individuals who Peter W. Smith tried to recruit in his quest to scour hacker forums, and others within his circle, told the Wall Street Journal that Smith implied he was working with Flynn.

"He said, 'I'm talking to Michael Flynn about this—if you find anything, can you let me know?'" recalled Eric York, a cybersecurity expert who, under Smith's guidance, dug through posts on hacker forums to see if anyone had the emails.

Emails that Smith sent to recruit people to his search reviewed by the WSJ suggest he was working with Flynn. In one, Smith wrote that Flynn's son, Michael G. Flynn, was helping in the effort. Another included Flynn's consulting firm Flynn Intel Group in a list of those who had joined the search party.

Michael Flynn—who was a senior adviser to Trump during the campaign—is now the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation probing whether the campaign colluded with Russia to influence the election.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to head the investigation in May after memos written by fired FBI Director James Comey came to light. These revealed that Trump told Comey in a private Oval Office meeting that he hoped the director could "let go" of the FBI's probe of Flynn and his activities.

Read more: Watch Playboy's White House correspondent hit back at Sarah Huckabee Sanders for calling Russia investigation a 'hoax'

Smith told those he tried to recruit that he was looking for roughly 33,000 emails deleted from a private server Clinton used for government business while she was Secretary of State. A number of the emails on the server run out of Clinton's home were found to have contained classified information.

Smith, the sources said, believed those emails had been obtained by hackers. American law enforcement officials have said there is no evidence Clinton's private emails were hacked.

During his campaign, Trump said he hoped Russia could obtain the deleted emails. "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," Trump said during a July press conference.

Trump's comments came after the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was hacked by Russian intelligence.

In January, America's intelligence agencies issued a report concluding that Russia hacked both political parties, state election infrastructure, and conducted a misinformation campaign to tilt the election toward Trump.

There is no known connection between Clinton's private email server and the subsequent hacks of the DNC or her campaign chairman John Podesta's emails.

In an interview with WSJ , Smith said he didn't know if emails that hackers eventually sent to him claiming they were from Clinton's server were authentic. Smith said he told the hackers the emails should be sent on to Wikileaks. The radical transparency group was later responsible for releasing the emails hacked from the DNC and Podesta.

"We knew the people who had these were probably around the Russian government," Smith told the newspaper. Smith died at the age of 81 in mid-May shortly after speaking with the WSJ. No such hacked emails have emerged.

Last week, President Trump called the ongoing Russia investigation in Congress and the FBI a "hoax." He also claimed President Barack Obama did nothing to stop Russian hacking.

Investigators in the Russia probe have examined intelligence agency reports that show hackers planned to get emails from Clinton's private server to Flynn through a middleman.

The White House declined to comment on the story. If Flynn coordinated with Smith, it wasn't in his capacity as a member of the Trump campaign, a former Trump campaign official said, pointing out that Smith didn't work for the campaign.