Working independently of the Trump campaign and starting in May 2016, Smith told the Wall Street Journal that he and his team worked to acquire tens of thousands of Hillary Clinton's emails that had been deleted by the former Secretary of State because they described "personal" matters.
He blamed a "RECENT BAD TURN IN HEALTH SINCE JANUARY, 2017" and added that his "LIFE INSURANCE OF $5 MILLION (was) EXPIRING".
Smith was a longtime Republican donor from Chicago, and for years financed opposition research against former President Bill Clinton.
Death records from Minnesota show that Smith, 81, killed himself in a hotel through "asphyxiation due to displacement of oxygen in confined space with helium" on May 14.
Someone employed at the hotel when Smith died said he was staying there while being treated for a heart condition.
The Tribune reports that he'd written to the authorities that there was "NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER" involving the death, and the police do not believe otherwise. Smith was found with a bag over his head, a helium source, and a suicide note that read there was "NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER" regarding his death. Smith told the Journal he had found several hacker groups, including two from Russian Federation, who claimed to have access to the emails, but he was unable to confirm their authenticity.
Those investigators have examined reports from intelligence agencies that describe Russian hackers discussing how to obtain emails from Mrs. Clinton's server and then transmit them to Mr. Flynn via an intermediary, according to US officials with knowledge of the intelligence.
Police reports confirmed tanks of helium were found in the room, as well as receipts for a nearby Walmart where Smith purchased "Helium Jumbo".
Smith's account is consistent with the findings from U.S. investigators examining Russia's involvement in the 2016 USA presidential election, according to sources cited by The Journal. Reporters say he died soon after telling The Wall Street Journal.