A new report tying President Donald Trump’s embattled ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to Russians who hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails provides the strongest suggestion yet that collusion could have occurred by the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election.
According to the Wall Street Journal, a Republican opposition researcher assembled a team prior to the 2016 presidential election to get their hands on emails he believed were stolen from Hillary Clinton’s private server. He believed they were Russian hackers.
According to people in his circle, the GOP operative Peter W. Smith alleged he was working with retired Lt. Gen Mike Flynn, who was then an adviser to the Trump campaign.
“He said, ‘I’m talking to Michael Flynn about this—if you find anything, can you let me know?’” said Eric York, a computer-security expert from Atlanta who searched hacker forums for Smith to sleuth out who might have Clinton’s deleted emails.
Smith did not work for Trump’s campaign, and it’s unclear, if any, what role Flynn played in the plan.
Smith has since died and neither Flynn or the White House are commenting.
The Hillary Clinton email scandal
Following Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, she was asked to hand over her emails per a Freedom of Information Act request. The emails weren’t stored on a State Department server, however, but rather on her own personal server.
Things got messy as Clinton had used her personal email account in her federal capacity. She agreed to hand over all work-related emails, but deleted about 32,000 emails she deemed “personal.”
Conservatives were outraged and Trump latched onto the email debacle throughout the entirety of his presidential campaign, suggesting they were deleted because they held incriminating evidence.
In July 2016 the Democratic National Committee’s emails were hacked and leaked, after which Trump, at a press conference, said he hoped the Russians would release Clinton’s deleted emails — it was believed the Russians were behind the hack.
But Clinton’s deleted emails never were found, or if they were, they were never released.
Did Michael Flynn and the Trump campaign collude with Russia?
After Flynn and several of Trump’s other high-ranking advisers were found to have undisclosed ties to Russian officials, one major questions has intrigued the public: Did Trump associates collude with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election?
Flynn resigned as Trump’s national security adviser unceremoniously after just 25 days on the job after he falsely described his communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — who is now being recalled to Russia.
Flynn became the target of an FBI investigation, which Trump may or may not have asked ex-FBI Director James Comey to “let go.”