If you haven’t seen Friday’s Wall Street Journal, there are two huge developments in the Trump/Russia story. First, a GOP operative named Peter W. Smith actively recruited people to help obtain Hillary Clinton’s private emails; and according to Smith, he was working with Trump campaign adviser Michael Flynn in this attempt. Smith told the Journal this for attribution before his death in May — yet another odd death of a witness connected with the Trump/Russia story. Further, according to the Journal report:
… investigators have examined reports from intelligence agencies that describe Russian hackers discussing how to obtain emails from Mrs. Clinton’s server and then transmit them to Mr. Flynn via an intermediary ...
This evening on the Lawfare Blog, UK cyber-analyst Matt Tait reveals in great detail how he himself was recruited by Peter W. Smith to verify the accuracy of emails, purportedly from Clinton’s server, that Smith had either obtained or was negotiating to obtain from an operative on the Deep Web.
Smith set up a dummy corporation to run the effort in order to avoid US campaign finance regulations, according to documents that Tait was sent by Smith.
Tait warned Smith repeatedly that any such hacked emails might be from Russian sources, but Smith was completely unconcerned about that possibility.
Smith was very well connected with Flynn and other highly placed persons in the Trump campaign, according to Tait, and frequently revealed intimate details of conversations and thinking of Flynn and the campaign that he could not have gotten otherwise.
Other persons listed in documents Tait was sent by Smith:
The first group, entitled “Trump Campaign (in coordination to the extent permitted as an independent expenditure)” listed a number of senior campaign officials: Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Sam Clovis, Lt. Gen. Flynn and Lisa Nelson.
In the end, Tait saw no such hacked emails, and was dropped by Smith after refusing to sign a non-disclosure agreement. And indeed, it wasn’t until the WSJ story appeared this morning that Tait put two and two together and came forward with his story.