Russia special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had been part of an effort to obtain Hillary Clinton's emails from Russian hackers, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
The report was based on "people familiar with the matter."
The effort to obtain Clinton's hacked emails was disclosed by the Journal in June — and it was led by Peter Smith, a longtime Republican activist who died in May. He was 81.
Smith, in correspondence and conversations with his colleagues, "portrayed Mr. Flynn as an ally in those efforts and implied that other senior Trump campaign officials were coordinating with him, which they have denied," the Journal reported.
Smith also named Flynn's consulting firm — Flynn Intel Group, which has since been disbanded — and his son, Michael G. Flynn, in the correspondence and conversations.
In an interview with the Journal in May, Smith said he believed that as many as 33,000 emails that Clinton said were personal and had been deleted from her private server had been obtained by hackers.
He made contact with what he said were five groups of hackers in the last months of last year's presidential campaign. Two of the groups, Smith believed, consisted of Russians who claimed to have Clinton's emails.
"We knew the people who had these were probably around the Russian government," Smith told the Journal in the interview.
There was no evidence that Clinton's server was ever hacked.
According to the report, Mueller's investigators were seeking to determine whether the elder Flynn was involved in Smith's effort to obtain the hacked Clinton documents. At the time, Flynn was a senior adviser to the Trump campaign.
President Donald Trump fired Flynn in February amid concerns about his disclosures to Vice President Mike Pence about his Russia connections. A lawyer for Mr. Flynn and a lawyer for his son declined to comment, the Journal reported.
Peter Carr, a Mueller spokesperson, declined to comment.
In addition, U.S. officials "with knowledge of the intelligence" told the Journal that investigators also have examined reports that describe Russian hackers discussing how to obtain emails from the Clinton server and providing them to Flynn via an intermediary.
However, the Journal noted that "it is isn't known if those hackers are ones" Smith approached in his effort.
On May 14, about 10 days after his Journal interview, Smith asphyxiated himself in a hotel room in Rochester, Minn., according to local authorities.
His body was found in a hotel located across the street the Mayo Clinic, according to a medical examiner's report.
A Smith associate told the Journal that he had recently visited the clinic.
In a note found near Smith's body, he apologized and said that "no foul play whatsoever" had occurred with his death, authorities told the Journal.
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