Late last month, the Wall Street Journal dropped a bombshell story about the late Republican operative Peter Smith, who in 2016 tried to obtain Hillary Clinton’s deleted State Department emails from Russian hackers.
Smith’s attempts to get stolen Clinton emails from Russian hackers were notable because the operative touted purported connections to Michael Flynn, a top foreign policy adviser on Trump’s presidential campaign who would later go on to be his appointed national security adviser.
Now a new report from Politico reveals that Smith sought help from infamous white nationalist internet troll Chuck C. Johnson, who was banned from Twitter in 2015 for soliciting donations to “take out” a top Black Lives Matter activist.
According to Politico, Johnson says that while he tried to help Smith scour the “dark web” to obtain copies of Clinton’s emails, the 81-year-old operative was deeply inexperienced in navigating modern computer technology and had difficulty nailing down substantive leads.
“The new details of Smith’s operation, which were shared with POLITICO Magazine by Johnson and others, paint a picture of a determined but ill-equipped activist casting about far and wide in a frantic but ultimately futile quest to get ahold of Clinton’s deleted emails and publish them ahead of Election Day,” the publication writes. “As the ailing octogenarian was dealing with sophisticated hackers and navigating the darkest corners of the internet, for instance, he was being tutored in the use of basic computer technology.”
Johnson, who is a former Breitbart reporter, claims that Smith repeatedly asked to be introduced to former Breitbart boss and Trump 2016 campaign CEO Steve Bannon, although Johnson decided against it because he didn’t want Smith’s shady project tied to the Trump campaign.
“He wanted me to introduce to him to Bannon, to a few others, and I sort of demurred on some of that,” Johnson said. “I didn’t think his operation was as sophisticated as it needed to be and I thought it was good to keep the campaign as insulated as possible.”