A longtime Republican operative who spent the final months of his life seeking out thousands of Hillary Clinton's deleted emails developed a relationship with President Donald Trump's former national security advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as early as 2015, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
That operative, Peter Smith, told associates during the 2016 presidential campaign that he was using Flynn's connections to help him track down the emails, the paper reported. An investment banker and Republican fundraiser, Smith died in an apparent suicide in 2017.
Flynn pleaded guilty in late 2017 to lying to investigators about contacts he had with Russian government officials, and has been cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller since then. He is due to be sentenced in December.
Mueller, whose office declined to comment, is investigating whether the Trump campaign had improper contacts with the Russians. Trump has denied any wrongdoing, and has repeatedly called the probe a "witch hunt."
The White House and an attorney for Flynn did not respond to a request for comment.