A Chicago Republican donor and operative who confessed to trying to obtain Hillary Clinton’s missing emails through Russian hackers committed suicide in a Minnesota hotel room just days after speaking to The Wall Street Journal about what he had done.
Peter W. Smith, 81, had allegedly left a suicide note and carefully prepared documents. He claimed he was in ill health and that he had a life insurance policy that was expiring, which probably would not cover a suicide.
The suicide occurred in mid-May at the Aspen Suites in Rochester that was used almost exclusively by Mayo Clinic patients and relative.
The Chicago Tribune reports:
Days earlier, the financier from suburban Lake Forest gave an interview to the Journal about his quest, and it began publishing stories about his efforts in late June. The Journal also reported it had seen emails written by Smith showing his team considered retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, then a top adviser to Republican Donald Trump’s campaign, an ally. Flynn briefly was President Trump’s national security adviser and resigned after it was determined he had failed to disclose contacts with Russia.
At the time, the newspaper reported Smith’s May 14 death came about 10 days after he granted the interview. Mystery shrouded how and where he had died, but the lead reporter on the stories said on a podcast he had no reason to believe the death was the result of foul play and that Smith likely had died of natural causes.
However, the Chicago Tribune obtained a Minnesota state death record filed in Olmsted County saying Smith committed suicide in a hotel near the Mayo Clinic at 1:17 p.m. on Sunday, May 14. He was found with a bag over his head with a source of helium attached. A medical examiner’s report gives the same account, without specifying the time, and a report from Rochester police further details his suicide.
In the note recovered by police, Smith apologized to authorities and said that “NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER” was involved in his death. He wrote that he was taking his own life because of a “RECENT BAD TURN IN HEALTH SINCE JANUARY, 2017” and timing related “TO LIFE INSURANCE OF $5 MILLION EXPIRING.”
Smith was to check out of the hotel on the day his body was discovered.
According to a former employee of Smith, he thought Smith had gone to the Mayo Clinic to be treated for a heart condition, but Mayo spokeswoman Ginger Plumbo could not confirm whether or not that took place, citing medical privacy laws.
He had been staying at the hotel for several days and had extended his stay at least once but was expected to check out on the day his body was found. “Tomorrow is my last day,” Smith told a hotel worker on May 13 while he worked on a computer in the business center, printing documents, according to the police reports.
According to record, Smith died of “asphyxiation due to displacement of oxygen in confined space with helium.” Apparently, Smith may have obtained the information on how to use helium and a plastic bag over his head from a book by Derek Humphry titled “Final Exit.”
“Many people obtain that information from his book,” said Fran Schindler, a volunteer with The Final Exit Network, a Florida-based nonprofit, provides information and support to people who suffer from a terminal illness and want to kill themselves. “It’s a method that has been around for many years and is well-known.”
The Tribune adds:
Rochester police Chief Roger Peterson on Wednesday called Smith’s manner of death “unusual,” but a funeral home worker said he’d seen it before.
An employee with Rochester Cremation Services, the funeral home that responded to the hotel, said he helped remove Smith’s body from his room and recalled seeing a tank.
An autopsy was conducted, according to the death record. The Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner’s Office declined a Tribune request for the autopsy report and released limited information about Smith’s death. A spokeswoman for AXA Equitable Life Insurance Co., listed in documents recovered by police as Smith’s insurance carrier, had no immediate comment.
According to the WSJ, Smith put together a team to see if they could find the more than 30,000 missing emails Clinton deleted from her server. Believing that Russians may have hacked her server, Smith and his team sought out five groups of hackers who claimed to have her emails. Among those groups, two were Russian.
Smith had a hand in many investigations into government corruption in the past, including the infamous “Troopergate,” which exposed the sexual allegations against former President Bill Clinton, and he also financed a probe into a 1969 trip Bill Clinton took to the Soviet Union while in college.
Smith’s demise is just another in a long list of people who somehow tied to the Clintons. While he was aging and in poor health, the fact that his death comes just days after confessing to trying to obtain Clinton’s emails seems quite suspicious to me. What do you think?
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