Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Friday, July 14, 2017

A Republican donor and operative from Chicago's North Shore who said he had tried to obtain Hillary Clinton's missing emails from Russian hackers killed himself in a Minnesota hotel room days after talking to The Wall Street Journal about his efforts, public records show. In a room at a Rochester hotel used almost exclusively by Mayo Clinic patients and relatives, Peter W. Smith, 81, left a carefully prepared file of documents, which includes a statement police called a suicide note in which he said he was in ill health and a life insurance policy was expiring. Days earlier, the financier from suburban Lake Forest gave an interview to the Journal about his quest, and it published stories about his efforts beginning 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, as an ally.

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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 that says 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."

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OMFG!!!! I keep repeating myself, but holy shiite, this stuff just keeps climbing to higher and higher levels of absurdity. A suicide note that says in caps "NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER" ten days after talking to the Wall Street Journal and making himself an obvious person of interest in the Trump-Russia affair, and he died with a bag over his head?

When the movies of these days come out, there're going to be epic. No political fiction writer dead or alive can match the abject craziness of the ongoing saga of Donald J Trump Goes to Washington.

#1 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-07-13 07:37 PM | Reply

- He was found with a bag over his head with a source of helium attached.

Hmmmmm..... what Trumper do we know who is associated with helium? Naw.... couldn't be. Could it?

#2 | Posted by Corky at 2017-07-13 07:53 PM | Reply

How does an 81 year old get 5 million dollar term insurance?

#3 | Posted by bored at 2017-07-13 07:56 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

What a way to go...sounding like Alvin and the Chipmunks.

#4 | Posted by madscientist at 2017-07-13 09:33 PM | Reply

It begins.

#5 | Posted by Zed at 2017-07-13 09:45 PM | Reply

"How does an 81 year old get 5 million dollar term insurance?"

And the insurance will still pay after a suicide?

#6 | Posted by danni at 2017-07-13 10:02 PM | Reply

#6

The suicide exemption is only 2 years after the policy is issued, at least it is with my company. Suicide is built in to the calculations used for underwriting beyond that period.

#7 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-07-13 10:08 PM | Reply

#6

All life policies I've seen have a two year suicide exclusion.

#8 | Posted by et_al at 2017-07-13 10:10 PM | Reply

Having said that, it's not that unusual for eldery people with large sum term policies about to expire to go ahead and plan their deaths before the policy coverage ends. I hardly doubt that Smith likely meets the profile of a person who would do that for a $5 million windfall going to his heirs.

#9 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-07-13 10:13 PM | Reply

Didn't know that about the 2 year suicide clause. So if I took out a policy and kept it for 2 years, when I am like 79, I could leave my kids a pile of cash? Hmm.

#10 | Posted by danni at 2017-07-13 10:17 PM | Reply

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Having said that - part two, if it turns out that Smith's estate is far beyond one that $5 million (and poor health at age 81) seems like a plausible reason to end one's life, then it might bring into question whether today's conclusion actually makes sense.

#11 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-07-13 10:18 PM | Reply

#10

You would have to be extremely healthy and the amount of insurance you can likely get at age 77 is very small or extraordinarily expense if it reaches 5 figures. But I deal with working class people. Maybe the healthier wealthy can buy 7 figure policies later in life.

#12 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-07-13 10:24 PM | Reply

"You would have to be extremely healthy and the amount of insurance you can likely get at age 77 is very small or extraordinarily expense if it reaches 5 figures."

I can tell you that at 50 I applied for a policy at the extreme elite price level, the agent said no one gets that. The nurse came to my house, tested me and I later qualified for the next ten years. I paid $39.00 per month for the next 10 years for $250,000. I'm not on any medications today, could still probably do a 7 minute mile. If anyone could qualify it would be me and I'm only 66. I didn't do anything to deserve my good health (well other than doing extreme workouts for many years and eating almost a totally vegetarian diet, I ate fish and eggs) but I do enjoy it and thank whoever for it.

#13 | Posted by danni at 2017-07-13 10:34 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

#13
Good on ya. Good Genes and good Karma, Danni.

#14 | Posted by oldwhiskeysour at 2017-07-13 11:22 PM | Reply

Hmmmmm..... what Trumper do we know who is associated with helium? Naw.... couldn't be. Could it?

#2 | Posted by Corky

It's not my MO, Corky. I inflate and pop my enemies, like in Dig-Dug. This guy asphyxiated himself.

#15 | Posted by HeliumRat at 2017-07-14 03:47 AM | Reply

Hillary Clinton must have killed him, of course.
It all makes sense now.

#16 | Posted by e1g1 at 2017-07-14 08:42 AM | Reply

I, myself, have a 14 million dollar life insurance policy through my employment due to my line of work and skills. I have no kids nor family to take care of, so I found art random in the telephone listings and have him as my beneficiary, though he doesn't know it yet.

Interestingly, he is roughly the same age and build as I am and my policy benefits are double in case of death by fire.

#17 | Posted by RevDarko at 2017-07-14 09:34 AM | Reply | Funny: 1

Should read "I found someone at random"

#18 | Posted by RevDarko at 2017-07-14 09:43 AM | Reply

"How does an 81 year old get 5 million dollar term insurance?"

He bought it years ago perhaps? it's a wholelife policy? Uh...that's the point.

"And the insurance will still pay after a suicide?"

most states have only a suicide exclusion in the first 2 years of the policy. After that....it's not excluded.

#19 | Posted by eberly at 2017-07-14 09:46 AM | Reply

REVDARKO I am available for beneficiary work if the need arises.

#20 | Posted by danni at 2017-07-14 09:47 AM | Reply

okay...could have read upthread first....obviously those questions were addressed.

#21 | Posted by eberly at 2017-07-14 09:48 AM | Reply

"For years, former Democratic President Bill Clinton was Smith's target. The wealthy businessman had a hand in exposing the "Troopergate" allegations about Bill Clinton's sex life. And he discussed financing a probe of a 1969 trip Bill Clinton took while in college to the Soviet Union, according to Salon magazine."

In other words he was like the Swiftboat Liars, just a persistent muck raking hater determined to bring down the Clintons. After the Whitewater investigation I just have zero respect for anyone who continued on that path of hate.

#22 | Posted by danni at 2017-07-14 09:52 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

So The Trump Crime Family isn't only guilty of treason but murder as well.
Nice to know.

#23 | Posted by aborted_monson at 2017-07-14 09:52 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

--So The Trump Crime Family isn't only guilty of treason but murder as well.

So now the Democrats have their very-own loony "Vince Foster" conspiracy theory.

#24 | Posted by nullifidian at 2017-07-14 09:59 AM | Reply

Tony, who murdered him?

and why?

#25 | Posted by eberly at 2017-07-14 10:06 AM | Reply

"I, myself, have a 14 million dollar life insurance policy through my employment due to my line of work and skills"

really? and you are allowed to choose your beneficiary? why would your company do that for you?

if it's about your skills then the company would be the owner and beneficiary.

#26 | Posted by eberly at 2017-07-14 10:08 AM | Reply

So now the Democrats have their very-own loony "Vince Foster" conspiracy theory.

#24 | Posted by nullifidian at 2017-07-14 09:59 AM | Reply

Karma.

Having said that, if this Russiagate thing goes on, and it will, I expect more mysterious deaths. Maybe all of them with letters that announce NO FOUL PLAY.

#27 | Posted by Zed at 2017-07-14 10:08 AM | Reply

I've had close contact with a personality like Trump. That man proved he was capable of murder.

#28 | Posted by Zed at 2017-07-14 10:09 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

"Having said that, it's not that unusual for eldery people with large sum term policies about to expire to go ahead and plan their deaths before the policy coverage ends"

it's not that unusual...meaning it's usual for elderly people to commit suicide because their term insurance policies are about to expire?

link?

#29 | Posted by eberly at 2017-07-14 10:10 AM | Reply

I think the prudent thing to do is to verify that he did indeed have a $5 million life insurance policy.

#30 | Posted by eberly at 2017-07-14 10:15 AM | Reply

Eish. No one got the joke on my insurance post. Either it was too esoteric or no one's awake yet.

My chosen beneficiary is the same age and build as I am, has no idea who I am, and the policy pays double if I die in a fire.

Think "Fletch"

#31 | Posted by RevDarko at 2017-07-14 10:42 AM | Reply

If this had been Seth Rich, there would have been conspiracy theories all over Fox and talk radio this morning... Where are they since its a Conservative who "committed suicide"?

#32 | Posted by Sycophant at 2017-07-14 10:51 AM | Reply

I think the prudent thing to do is to verify that he did indeed have a $5 million life insurance policy.

Smith wrote this himself in his all caps suicide note.

it's not that unusual...meaning it's usual

Don't ever try to rephrase my words, they mean what I wrote, not what you define. While I don't know of any study on the subject, Mr. Smith is not the first elderly person I've heard of that allegedly committed suicide close to the end of a term life insurance policy's life. I don't believe it's a common occurrence, but it certainly isn't unheard of, especially for those with health issues and diminished ability to enjoy life or perhaps are terminally ill anyway.

#33 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-07-14 10:55 AM | Reply

"Don't ever try to rephrase my words, they mean what I wrote, not what you define."

In other words, you want a grilled chicken sandwich and crisps for lunch.

While that's interesting, I don't see how it's related to the discussion at hand.

#34 | Posted by RevDarko at 2017-07-14 11:01 AM | Reply

Good article to read:

GOP Researcher Who Sought Clinton Emails Had Alt-Right Help

Peter Smith's quixotic effort to obtain Hillary Clinton's deleted emails from Russian hackers got a boost from a pro-Trump activist with White House ties.

By Ben Schreckinger July 11, 2017

Weird ending to the piece (Safron worked for Smith late in his life, was hired to help him use the computer among other things):

Safron said that he noticed that Journal reporter Shane Harris had viewed his LinkedIn profile this spring and that he notified Smith, who granted Harris an interview in May, 10 days before he died. Neither his family nor local officials have revealed the cause of Smith's death, but Safron said he had noticed his boss' health waning in his final months.

Safron's social media profiles still link to an old Twitter handle, @JSaf17. Safron said he deleted the account several years ago. But in March, the handle was reused to create a new account, which has tweeted only once -- in Russian.

#35 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2017-07-14 12:28 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

Tony, you used a double negative in your post.

By the way, who killed him?

#36 | Posted by eberly at 2017-07-14 05:15 PM | Reply

I think he probably committed suicide unless more contradictory information comes forward. But if it was murder, I have no idea. I don't think it's important 'who' may have killed him, the better question is who ordered him to be killed, which is what I think you probably asking. I doubt that the actual killer was someone doing it on their own. It would have been a hit made to look like suicide.

#37 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-07-14 06:36 PM | Reply

For the love of God, the man chose the easy way out (Helium) because his health was failing. No, I did not assist him, thanks Corky. And furthermore, if you're looking for a conspiracy, maybe he knew too much about Hillary and the DNC had had to Seth Rich him. But how stupid is that? It sounds like RussiaGate all over again, but in reverse.

#38 | Posted by HeliumRat at 2017-07-15 08:08 AM | Reply

#38

Not looking for conspiracy. Looking for the natural behaviors of a mentally ill man with no moral compunction.

#39 | Posted by Zed at 2017-07-15 09:37 AM | Reply

Let's play a game: This is the first mysterious death. How many more before it suggests something?

#40 | Posted by Zed at 2017-07-15 09:39 AM | Reply

It should be easy enough to prove Smith committed suicide. Just check the Walmart and hotel surveillance footage to make sure he was the one who brought in the helium:

"Police found a receipt from a local Walmart time-stamped from the previous day, May 13 at 12:53 p.m. The receipt was for the purchase of "Helium Jumbo" and other items. Police also noted that the two helium tanks in the room were draped with vinyl-covered exercise ankle or wrist weights. The report did not offer an explanation for the weights. Police said that because they did not suspect foul play, they had not viewed any security video from the Walmart store to confirm that Smith bought the tanks himself."

Also explain where the weights were found. On his body? Specifically on his arms so he wouldn't be as easily able to rip of he plastic bag from his head? Check for them for fingerprints to make sure Smith's are on them.

#41 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2017-07-15 10:01 AM | Reply

PS I'm ruling out the likelihood that someone who is planning on killing themselves would bring ankle or wrist weights to the hotel for the purposes of working out.

#42 | Posted by Gal_Tuesday at 2017-07-15 10:04 AM | Reply

I have never heard of or read about any suicide attempt that involve helium before. Did he want to go out with a funny voice?

#43 | Posted by danni at 2017-07-15 10:14 AM | Reply

Danni I think it's a "new" fandaggled way to go. No muss, no fuss.

#44 | Posted by zelkova at 2017-07-15 12:37 PM | Reply

I read this guy was investigating the Clinton Foundation as well as the lost emails.

Now he's dead.

#45 | Posted by Prolix247 at 2017-07-15 06:30 PM | Reply

Swing and a miss........Failed attempt at spin POSLix.

The Trump Crime Family had him "offed".
You don't betray "Tiny Hands Don" and live to tell about it!

#46 | Posted by aborted_monson at 2017-07-15 07:52 PM | Reply

Swing and a miss........Failed attempt at spin POSLix.

The Trump Crime Family had him "offed".
You don't betray "Tiny Hands Don" and live to tell about it!

#47 | Posted by aborted_monson at 2017-07-15 07:53 PM | Reply

I read this guy was investigating the Clinton Foundation as well as the lost emails.
Now he's dead.
#45 | POSTED BY PROLIX247

I read this guy tried to find evidence of a crime when investigating the Clinton Foundation as well as the lost emails at the behest of the Trump campaign, but failed.

Now he's dead.

#48 | Posted by rstybeach11 at 2017-07-15 08:28 PM | Reply

#43 Maybe helium assists the soul leaving...

#49 | Posted by Greatamerican at 2017-07-16 01:22 AM | Reply

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