A veteran Republican activist who attempted to find Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Nation mourns Colin Powell The Memo: Powell ended up on losing side of GOP fight Powell death leads to bipartisan outpouring of grief MORE's emails stolen by hackers had ties with Gen. Michael Flynn, a relationship that may have played a direct role in his quest, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
Sources told the Journal that Peter Smith had a professional relationship with Flynn as early as 2015, when the two had a meeting just after Flynn left his position at the top of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
In an email the Journal reviewed, a former associate of Smith's, Joe Szobocsan, wrote to a friend last week, "As you are aware Peter started a business relationship with Gen. Mike Flynn in November 2015. We spoke with him on the day he left for his trip to Moscow."
Smith also told those around him during the 2016 presidential race that he was using Flynn's connections in his email project, according to the paper.
The Journal had previously reported that Smith implied he had ties to Flynn. The email and sources who spoke with the Journal reportedly confirmed that the two had a working relationship, though no apparent business deals came of the 2015 meeting.
As he tried to chase down Clinton's emails, Smith came in contact with a number of hackers, including two groups Smith said were Russians.
Smith died in what authorities ruled to be a suicide shortly after speaking with the Journal regarding his search. His death came weeks after he told friends he thought he had found the emails, sources told the paper.
It is unclear how much anyone else knew of Smith's investigation.
Whether or not anyone had knowledge will be of importance to special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE's probe into alleged collusion between the Trump 2016 campaign and Russia.
The Journal reported last week that Smith raised at least $100,000 to finance his quest from four separate backers.
Were Flynn found to be involved in Smith's search, it could have broader implications.
Flynn played a key role in President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump goes after Cassidy after saying he wouldn't support him for president in 2024 Jan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Agencies sound alarm over ransomware targeting agriculture groups MORE's 2016 campaign and went on to briefly serve as his national security adviser.
His tenure in the administration ended abruptly when it emerged that he had spoken to the Russian ambassador prior to Trump taking office and had lied to the FBI regarding the conversation.
Flynn is set to be sentenced in December.