House Democrats obtain new documents from estate of GOP operative in Russia inquiry

PHOTO: Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, leaves a committee meeting at the U.S. Capitol February 5, 2018 in Washington, DC.PlayWin McNamee/Getty Images
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Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have received new materials from the estate of Peter Smith, a GOP operative who reportedly led a campaign to obtain missing Hillary Clinton emails from Russian hackers during the 2016 presidential race, sources familiar with the materials production tell ABC News.

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The delivery is the latest unilateral move by Democrats on the panel after Republicans moved to end the committee’s probe.

Last year, the Wall Street Journal first reported that Smith, a Republican activist from Chicago who died in May 2017, led an effort to obtain emails Hillary Clinton deleted from her private email server from Russian hackers, and cited senior Trump campaign officials in his effort.

William Ensing, the attorney for Smith’s estate, confirmed to ABC News the delivery of documents to the committee in response to a request from Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the committee.

A spokesman for Schiff declined to comment.

PHOTO: House Intelligence Ranking Member Adam Schiff speaks at the Council On Foreign Relations, February 16, 2018 in Washington, DC.Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
House Intelligence Ranking Member Adam Schiff speaks at the Council On Foreign Relations, February 16, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Smith's records are of interest to congressional investigators continuing to probe potential contacts between the Trump campaign - and those within the campaign's orbit - and Russia.

The Journal has also reported that special counsel Robert Mueller was investigating any role that retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a senior advisor to the Trump campaign who briefly served as national security adviser in the Trump White House, might have had in that effort.

Attorneys for Flynn and his son have declined to answer questions from ABC News about any alleged contacts between their clients and Smith.

The Senate Intelligence Committee previously sought and received some materials from Smith’s estate last year, as part of their ongoing investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference.

Days before his death, Smith told the Journal he was not operating on behalf of the Trump campaign.

The acquisition of documents from Smith’s estate is the latest indication that Democrats are continuing their investigation after Republicans released a report that found no evidence of wrongdoing by the Trump campaign but criticized the intelligence community and actions taken by Trump associates.

The committee’s bipartisan Russia investigation was plagued with infighting between the majority and minority, who sparred over the focus of the probe, document production and potential witnesses at nearly every turn.

In April, Democrats - who claim Republicans failed to sufficiently explore allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia - interviewed former Cambridge Analytica staffer Christopher Wylie, and claimed that he provided new information about the controversial data firm’s targeting tactics, after Facebook claimed that it harvested data from up to 87 million Facebook profiles.

No Republicans attended the meeting, according to a source in the room for the interview.

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