Friday - July 14, 2017 12:47 am

GOP operative who sought Clinton emails from Russian took his own life in Rochester

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Autopsy was conducted but Medical Examiner declined to give report to media.

CHICAGO — A former private equity adviser and Republican operative, who died soon after telling The Wall Street Journal he tried during the 2016 presidential election campaign to obtain Hillary Clinton’s missing emails from Russian hackers, killed himself in a Rochester, Minn., hotel, according to a state death record obtained by the Chicago Tribune.

The record from Olmsted County said that 81-year-old Peter W. Smith took his own life in a hotel used exclusively for Mayo Clinic patients on May 14. He was found with a bag over his head with a source of helium attached.

In the note recovered by police, Smith apologized to authorities and said that "NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER" was involved in his death. He wrote that he was taking his own life because of a "RECENT BAD TURN IN HEALTH SINCE JANUARY, 2017" and timing related "TO LIFE INSURANCE OF $5 MILLION EXPIRING," the Tribune reported.

The report also prompted speculation on social media that Smith’s death was connected to the investigation. However, nothing in the story suggests a connection.

The Rochester Post Bulletin reported:

A Chicago funeral home later worked with Rochester Cremation Services to cremate the body. There was not direct contact with Smith's family.

"We're getting calls from everyone. CNN called tonight," an employee at Rochester Cremation, who wished to remain anonymous, said on Thursday night. "I expect we're going to be busy with the media, now that this news is out there."

Smith’s death came about 10 days after the Journal said that he granted the newspaper an interview. It reported that Smith said in the interview that he was convinced that emails missing from Clinton’s server were in the hands of Russian hackers and that he had worked with a team to acquire them. Smith said he was working independently and President Donald Trump’s campaign said Smith never worked for it.

Smith told the Journal he was unsure of the authenticity of emails hackers eventually did send to him and he told them to pass them to WikiLeaks, the same outfit that published the emails taken from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee.

In emails Smith sent to potential recruits for his project, which the Journal said it reviewed, Smith referenced former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn several times.

According to the record of Smith’s death obtained by the Tribune, an autopsy was conducted on Smith’s body but the Medical Examiner’s Office declined to give the newspaper a copy of the report.

Smith had lived in the Chicago suburb of Lake Forest. One of Smith’s former employees told the Tribune that he thought Smith had gone to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, to be treated for a heart condition.

Associated Press

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