Two Notorious ‘Alt-Right’ Figures May Play Key Roles in Russia Investigation

The alt-right’s presence seemingly pervades every corner of the Donald Trump administration, so perhaps it’s no surprise that key players in the extremist white nationalist movement are turning out to be involved in the president’s scandals as well — namely, the ongoing investigation into potential collusion between Russian intelligence and members of the Trump campaign.

Two major alt-right figures — Charles C. Johnson, the white nationalist “Trump’s Troll” who reportedly acted as an adviser to the administration’s transition team, and notorious neo-Nazi hacker Andrew “weev” Auernheimer — have been implicated in the Russia investigation, according to a recent piece by Ben Schreckinger in Politico.

Their role became public when a Republican activist named Peter Smith, 81, committed suicide shortly after detailing for the Wall Street Journal his attempts to track down hackers he believed might possess the 33,000 emails Hillary Clinton deleted from her private servers, the controversy over which was a major campaign issue raised by Trump during the election. Smith’s involvement could be a key to the investigation if evidence can be found that he acted as a conduit between Russian intelligence operatives seeking to affect the 2016 election outcome and Trump adviser Michael Flynn, Sr., the onetime National Security Adviser who resigned over his meetings with key Russian officials.

Johnson, a onetime Breitbart News writer who told Schreckinger he met Smith in 2013 while conducting “opposition research” on President Obama, had been in touch with Smith throughout the 2016 campaign, discussing “tactics and research,” including Smith’s efforts in tracking down Clinton’s emails.

“He wanted me to introduce him to [Trump’s chief adviser, Stephen] Bannon, to a few others, and I sort of demurred on some of that,” Johnson said. “I didn’t think his operation was as sophisticated as…

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