Thursday, July 06, 2017

Peter W. Smith-- Beyond The Collusion, The BIG Question Is: How Did Smith Die?


-by Helen Klein

As Rachel Maddow says, the news delivers a new bombshell every day, and it’s hard to keep up. Last week’s explosive revelation concerned Peter W. Smith and his role in potential Russia-Trump collusion during the campaign. Shane Harris interviewed Smith for the Wall Street Journal and soon after, Smith suddenly turned up dead. So far, no one knows how.

Here is a brief refresher on who Peter W. Smith is, or was, and why he has come into prominence in the Trump-Russia affair.

Last week, the WSJ had a shocking expose by Shane Harris revealing efforts by a Republican operative and well-known opposition researcher, Peter W. Smith, to collude with the Russians in order to obtain hacked emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server to use against her during the campaign. Smith discussed his activities with Michael Flynn, who was working for the Trump campaign. Emails written by Smith and his associates show that his group considered Flynn and his consulting company, Flynn Intel Group, to be allies in their quest. In addition to his connection with Flynn, Smith had deep ties to other people in Trump’s campaign organization as well as to the Republican establishment.

In particular, Smith had a close relationship with Newt Gingrich that went back decades. Gingrich was a top advisor to the Trump campaign. Besides contributing over $100,000 to Gingrich over the years, Smith raised considerable amounts of money for him and was a prominent financial backer of his activities. Furthermore, Smith had close ties to Matt Doyle at Breitbart, which Steve Bannon ran until he left to join Trump’s campaign.

Over the course of his career, Smith practiced rather blurry ethics, to say the least. He had engaged in “dirty tricks” before and he certainly disliked the Clintons. Notable in his history are previous attempts to damage Bill Clinton. Smith was very successful in this endeavor and instrumental in his disgrace. In 1998, Smith actually admitted to the Chicago Sun Times that he had spent $80,000 to get negative information on Bill Clinton and place it in the news. The money went to paying off four state troopers (their revelations were referred to as “Trooper-Gate”) and David Brock, the reporter. The story led to the sexual harassment lawsuit by Paula Jones, the appointment of special prosecutor, Ken Starr, and eventually impeachment by the House. This is relevant and enlightening background on Smith’s given his efforts last year to damage Hillary during the campaign.

Smith aimed to disparage Hillary via her emails and he did not care from whom he obtained them. If they were from Russia, that was just fine with him. (Isn’t this clear-cut treason?)

What is beyond belief is Smith actually sought out being interviewed by Harris. He thought what he had done was proper and for a worthy cause. He was not hiding his efforts to get Russian help; rather, he seemed proud of it.

In Think Progress, July 3rd:
Smith’s history suggests he may have been in contact with the Trump campaign. This is consistent with what Smith told potential collaborators as he sought hacked emails.

In a document Smith used for recruiting others to the effort, Smith listed four members of Trump’s campaign: Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Sam Clovis and Michael Flynn. He said that he was working “in coordination to the extent permitted as an independent expenditure” with the officials.
“Independent expenditure” clearly indicates that Smith was receiving payment for his service. Who paid him?

In July 2016, Smith contacted a British security expert, Matt Tait, to enlist his support in validating the hacked emails if and when he obtained them. (He apparently never did.) Tait has a big role to play in this unfolding story.

In Lawfare on June 30, “The Time I Got Recruited to Collude with the Russians,” Tait wrote:
...Right around the time the DNC emails were dumped by Wikileaks – and curiously, around the same time Trump called for the Russians to get Hillary Clinton’s missing emails-- I was contacted out of the blue by a man named Peter Smith, who had seen my work going through these emails.

Yet Smith had not contacted me about the DNC’s hack, but rather about his conviction that Clinton’s private email server had been hacked-- in his view almost certainly both by the Russian government and likely by multiple other hackers too-- and his desire to ensure that the fruits of those hacks were exposed prior to the election. Over the course of a long phone call, he mentioned that he had been contacted by someone from the “Dark Web” who claimed to have a copy of emails from Secretary Clinton’s private server, and this was why he had contacted me; he wanted me to help validate whether or not the emails were genuine.

It is no overstatement to say that my conversations with Smith shocked me. Given the amount of media attention given at the time to the likely involvement of the Russian government in the DNC hack, it seemed mind-boggling for the Trump campaign-- or for this offshoot of it-- to be actively seeking those emails. To me this felt really wrong.

…A few weeks into my interactions with Smith, he sent me a document, ostensibly a cover page from a dossier of opposition research to be compiled by Smith’s group, and which purported to clear up who was involved.

…My perception then was the inclusion of Trump campaign officials on this document was not merely a name-dropping exercise. This document was about establishing a company to conduct opposition research on behalf of the campaign, but operating at a distance so as to avoid campaign reporting. Indeed, the document says as much in black and white.
From their communication, Tait had the impression Smith was well informed about the inner details of Trump’s campaign.
Although it wasn’t initially clear to me how independent Smith’s operation was from Flynn or the Trump campaign, it was immediately apparent that Smith was both well connected within the top echelons of the campaign and he seemed to know both Lt. Gen. Flynn and his son well. Smith routinely talked about the goings on at the top of the Trump team, offering deep insights into the bizarre world at the top of the Trump campaign. Smith told of Flynn’s deep dislike of DNI Clapper, whom Flynn blamed for his dismissal by President Obama. Smith told of Flynn’s moves to position himself to become CIA Director under Trump, but also that Flynn had been persuaded that the Senate confirmation process would be prohibitively difficult. He would instead therefore become National Security Advisor should Trump win the election, Smith said. (Of course this is exactly what happened.)
Smith told Tait that he set up a shell company to “avoid campaign reporting.” This suggests that either the campaign itself or a Super PAC that supported Trump’s candidacy paid Smith.

Note to Mueller: “Follow the money.”

Smith wanted Tait to sign a nondisclosure agreement but he refused. Tait declined to be involved. Smith’s attempt to bring Tait and his expertise on board thus backfired and eventually led to the exposure of Smith’s efforts in the WSJ.

The initial WSJ interview with Smith occurred in early May. Harris surmised that Smith had a lot more to reveal about Trump-Russia collusion and he had planned on interviewing him again, but unfortunately Smith died on May 14th. Perhaps Smith needed to be stopped from doing so and spilling more incendiary information about the Trump campaign’s nefarious and treasonous efforts to damage Clinton?

It is well known that Trump has been fuming incessantly about the Russia investigation for months and has been determined to stop it.

What happened in the time between the WSJ article and Smith’s death? Bombshell stuff: On May 9th, Trump fired Comey in an attempt to halt the Russia investigation. Of course, this was unsuccessful as a few days later Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel.

In an NBC interview, Harris stated that he has tried to find out how Smith died but multiple attempts at obtaining this information have been unsuccessful. What was the cause of his death?

The Palmer Report on July 3 puts forth three scenarios:

1. Smith was 81 and died of natural causes. As Palmer says, “But what are the odds he just happened to drop dead right after speaking with a reporter about his role in the political conspiracy of the century?”

In the many murder mysteries out there, a common line is, “Never believe in coincidences.”

2. Perhaps Smith knew he was dying and this was “some sort of attempt at a deathbed confession.” However, Smith did not tell Harris any such thing and it was apparent to Harris that he had not shared his full story and had more to tell. Actually, the WSJ did not print the article until Matt Tait came forward about Smith’s failed attempt to recruit him. This scenario, therefore, appears doubtful. It could easily be followed up and disproven by looking into Smith’s medical records.

3. After Smith began talking to a reporter about his contacts with Flynn and his role in the Trump-Russia collusion scandal, someone had Smith killed to stop him from revealing anything further to the media. Are the Russians involved? Palmer muses that Putin has had people murdered but never an American. While this would be quite a stretch and right out of a spy novel, surely it is conceivable.

It is well known that people who have crossed Putin have wound up dead. Some murders have occurred beyond Russia and its affiliates and in Western Europe. He is well versed in ways to kill people that are undetectable and make it look like natural causes or an accident. So far, this is what Smith’s death looks like.

There is another angle to this scenario: perhaps someone in Washington had Smith murdered.

While Smith’s death may have been innocent, if not, YIKES!

Surely an expert autopsy is called for, although it may already be too late to find out whether any shenanigans took place. After all, Russia has had a lot of practice and is quite expert at assassination techniques leaving no trace.

Real life is beating fiction hands down.

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At 9:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

fascinating (NOT!) how much of this shit went on and nobody did dick about any of it -- even though, apparently, many in the media and in the obamanation admin knew of it.

And why is it that R candidates commit treason or violate the constitution (that is known at the time) and ruling D admins never do shit about it? (Nixon/LBJ, Reagan/carter, cheney/Clinton, drumpfsterfire/obamanation)

We should just surrender to putin now and get it over with -- officially repudiate the entire constitution (about half of it is now ignored including 80% of the bill of rights). The drumpfsterfire voters would love to have that strong father figure who kills people he doesn't like, is virulently homophobic and is as greedy as anyone in the history of mankind. He'd be their superman hero like hitler was to Goebbels.

At 12:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course, IF the Russians hacked the private server of then Sec State HRC used for her highly sensitive government position, she should have been indicted, tried and convicted on a variety of security/espionage counts far exceeding those successfully used against other government employees by Obumma.

Why no concern with the equally suspicious death of Seth Rich in relation to the allegedly hacked, but most likely leaked, DNC emails?

John Puma

At 1:26 AM, Blogger Procopius said...

"Last week, the WSJ had a shocking expose by Shane Harris revealing efforts by a Republican operative and well-known opposition researcher, Peter W. Smith, to collude with the Russians in order to obtain hacked emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server to use against her during the campaign."
I don't think 'collude' means what you seem to think it means. Evidently Smith was putting out feelers in hacker areas on the Dark Web asking is anybody had Clinton emails. Not specifically Russian contacts. Some unknown person responded on the Dark Web saying he had some and offered them for sale. He wasn't trying (as far as we know) to get somebody to get the emails for him or offering future cooperation as a reward for getting them. Maybe I'm just quibbling here, but in recent reports the word 'collude' has been used as a pejorative term with criminalistic overtones to imply that a party was allying with a foreign intelligence agency (specifically Russian). Would you have used the word 'collude' if he had been contacting hackers to see if they could get the emails from Mossad (I happen to think that if any agency besides NSA has them it would be Mossad, possibly FSA as well)?

At 6:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I quit reading when I saw "The Palmer Report." The next time I see this trash site linked to here will be the last time I read Down With Tyranny.

At 9:59 AM, Anonymous Helen Klein said...

To Procopious above -

I see your point, however, I disagree. "Collude" is collude, "treason" is treason. I would think that seeking hacked emails from whatever source and being in cahoots with the campaign itself towards this end should serve as "collusion" no matter the source, even an American one. It is an illegal, criminal and treasonous effort to damage a candidate by "dirty tricks." With Nixon, it was his own team doing this, Americans all, nothing foreign whatsoever, and it still got Nixon impeached. Furthermore, seeking hacked emails from possible Russian sources, given everything else going on with their interference in our elections as well with other European countries is surely cause for heightened alarm. Smith's lack of concern about where they came from, along with his thinking that his cause was "right" in his pursuit is quite sickening. This is collusion and treason.

To Anonymous above -

Your point is well taken. The three options presented of how how Smith may have died, however, are concise.


At 12:50 PM, Blogger Anon said...

Good Lord don't use the Palmer Report for anything. They are hyper hyper partisan and exaggerate waaay too much to be of value.

At 12:55 PM, Blogger Anon said...

Bingo. Palmer Report is hyperbolic opinion & conjecture pretending to be news.

Dude was Daily News Bin until everyone got wise to his crap. So he whipped up a new name. #Crap

At 1:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the Russians released a video of Trump being pee'd on by paid Moscow females to the Clinton campaign and she won, would we say she should be impeached because she colluded with the Russians? i.e. like the Puma notes the emails are the smoke, Hillary provided the fire.

Still give the Dem's credit : they winning the body count propaganda war. Add to Seth Rich--

"Shawn Lucas, the man who served papers to the DNC in the fraud class action suit on behalf of Bernie Sanders supporters, was found dead on Aug. 2."

"Also, on June 22, former UN official John Ashe “accidentally” crushed his own throat and died a week before he was scheduled to testify against the Clintons and Democratic Party, according to a report by Gateway Pundit."

(Hey hey LBJ!)

At 5:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HK, Nixon was never impeached. And the threat of impeachment was NOT about his treasonous negotiations with NV (and Russia) at the Paris talks to keep the war hot so he could win in '68. It was about a B&E and conspiracy and cover-up.


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