Michael Flynn
Then-White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn walks down the White House colonnade on the way to President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's joint news conference at the White House in Washington, D.C., Feb. 10, 2017. Reuters/Jim Bourg

Peter W. Smith, a Republican opposition researcher, contacted hackers ahead of 2016 presidential election seeking Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s emails that he believed were stolen by Russians, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. The report indicated there was collusion between President Donald Trump’s supporters and Russia ahead of the election.

While seeking those emails, Smith told several people he was affiliated with Michael Flynn, who was at the time Trump’s campaign adviser, the report added.

Read: Russians Viewed Michael Flynn As A Close Friend, Sources Say

“He said, ‘I’m talking to Michael Flynn about this — if you find anything, can you let me know?’” Eric York, a computer-security expert told the Journal.

York searched hacker forums on behalf of Smith for people who likely had access to the emails, according to the newspaper.

Smith sought the emails that were deleted from Clinton’s private email server. Former FBI Director James Comey said last year that the server did not appear to have been hacked and recommended against taking any action against Clinton.

In an interview to the Journal, Smith said the people who worked with him found two of the five hackers who claimed to have the emails were Russians.

Smith died May 14, ten days after the Journal interviewed him.

However, a Trump campaign official reportedly said Smith did not work for the campaign and if Flynn helped him, he would have done so as a private citizen.

Flynn, who became national security advisor in the Trump administration, was forced to resign from the post just weeks into Trump’s presidency after admitting he misrepresented his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to Vice President Mike Pence.

According to an email of Smith reviewed by the Journal, the GOP operative appeared to pull in people to work with him on seeking the emails, and he also offered these people to introduce them to Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn, who worked as chief of staff in his father’s company. He, however, said he never tried to pay for the emails.

Smith reportedly said he received the emails from the hackers and vetted them. However, after examining them, he was unsure of their authenticity to leak them himself.

“We told all the groups to give them to WikiLeaks,” he told the Journal, which reported the whistleblowing website did not claim to have them and did not publish them.

According to the report, Smith and one of his associates said they had a series of communication with Flynn and his company Flynn Intel. He reportedly said that he backed Flynn’s efforts during the transition period to establish ties with Russian officials.

Read: What Does Michael Flynn Know About Russia?

Smith’s views on Russian hacking were complex. While he said he believed Russians were likely among those who tried to steal Clinton’s emails, he dismissed intelligence agencies’ conclusion that the Russia’s government meddled in the election to discredit Clinton and to help Trump, the paper reported.

Trump has dismissed any collusion with Russia during the presidential campaign and called the investigation on it a “witch hunt.”

Smith was a hacking victim himself, the Journal reported, adding that emails he wrote about the 2015 contest to fill former House Speaker John Boehner’s seat were stolen from the Illinois Republican Party and were published on DCLeaks.com. He reportedly blamed Russian hackers for this.

Last December, he told the New York Times he did not know his emails were hacked until the Times’ reporter told him about it.

“I’m not upset at all,” he told the Times. “I try in my communications, quite frankly, not to say anything that would be embarrassing if made public.”

This is not the first time Smith was involved in such dealings involving the Clinton family. In the 1990s, he financed an effort initiated by conservative donors to obtain information about the then President Bill Clinton and publish it damaging his reputation.

He was a Chicago private equity executive who for years worked on Republican causes, according to BuzzFeed News. He was also former chairman at Newt Gingrich's political action committee, Gopac.