A Republican donor and operative from Chicago’s North Shore who said he had tried to obtain Hillary Clinton’s missing emails from Russian hackers killed himself in a Minnesota hotel room days after talking to The Wall Street Journal about his efforts, public records show.
In mid-May, in a room at a Rochester hotel used almost exclusively by Mayo Clinicpatients and relatives, Peter W. Smith, 81, left a carefully prepared file of documents, including a statement police called a suicide note in which he said he was in ill health and a life insurance policy was expiring.
Days earlier, the financier from suburban Lake Forest gave an interview to the Journal about his quest, and it began publishing stories about his efforts in late June. The Journal also reported it had seen emails written by Smith showing his team considered retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, then a top adviser to Republican Donald Trump’s campaign, an ally. Flynn briefly was President Trump’s national security adviser and resigned after it was determined he had failed to disclose contacts with Russia.
At the time, the newspaper reported Smith’s May 14 death came about 10 days after he granted the interview. Mystery shrouded how and where he had died, but the lead reporter on the stories said on a podcast he had no reason to believe the death was the result of foul play and that Smith likely had died of natural causes.