GOP operative who sought Clinton emails cited Trump aides: report

A Republican activist who sought last year to obtain Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies DNC, RNC step up cyber protections Gun proposal picks up GOP support MORE's personal emails that had been deleted from a private email server had included the names of top Trump campaign officials in a recruiting document, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Among those listed in the document are now-White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, now-counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, now-Agriculture Department policy adviser Sam Clovis and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The document is dated Sept. 7, 2016, according to the Journal.

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Around that time, GOP activist Peter Smith began assembling a team of lawyers, tech experts and Russian-speaking investigators to obtain 33,000 of Clinton's private emails that he believed had been stolen by hackers.

Smith, who died last month shortly after speaking with the newspaper, said that his operation was not tied to the Trump campaign, and the recruiting document does not suggest that he was coordinating with campaign officials.

It is not clear why the former campaign officials were listed in the document.

Smith told the Journal that his operation had been in contact with several hacker groups, including two that he had suspected of being tied to the Russian government.

Smith believed that the deleted Clinton emails could have been obtained by hackers and might have included politically damaging information.

The Journal reported this week that U.S. investigators have examined intelligence reports indicating that Russian hackers discussed how to obtain Clinton's emails and pass them to Flynn through an intermediary.

That intelligence was collected around the same time that Smith's group was operating, though it isn't clear who the intermediary in question was.

A special counsel and multiple congressional committees are investigating Russia's role in the 2016 election, as well as possible ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow.