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FBI informant who accused the Bidens of corruption in Ukraine is charged with lying to authorities

Special counsel David Weiss has accused Alexander Smirnov of fabricating the scandal that is the subject of the Republicans’ impeachment inquiry into the president

FBI informant Biden
U.S. President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden leave a restaurant for Hunter's birthday in Los Angeles, California, on February 4.KEVIN LAMARQUE (REUTERS)
Miguel Jiménez

From accuser to accused. Special counsel David Weiss — who is in charge of investigating U.S. President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden — has filed charges against the FBI informant who accused the Bidens of corruption in Ukraine. Alexander Smirnov, 43, falsely told FBI agents in June 2020 that executives linked with Ukrainian energy company Burisma paid Hunter and Joe Biden $5 million each in 2015 or 2016. Smirnov has been charged with making a false statement and creating a false and fictitious record.

This false statement — which the special counsel argues was politically motivated — is what the Republicans have used to accuse Joe Biden of corruption, despite not having any evidence. It’s also what led the party to open an impeachment inquiry into Biden. Last summer, Republicans said that Smirnov had acted heroically and demanded that the FBI release his full statement. The chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Republican James Comer, sent a request to the FBI last year to obtain the so-called FD-1023 document containing the statement. But even back then, there were many doubts about whether Smirnov’s allegations were true.

Weiss is the special counsel who indicted Hunter Biden on federal gun charges and for alleged tax crimes. Now, however, he is charging Smirnov in connection with statements he made to the FBI about Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine, which sought to implicate Joe Biden in these business ties.

There was no evidence to support the claims of the FBI informant. Despite this, Republicans subpoenaed Hunter Biden in the House of Representatives and voted to open an impeachment inquiry against the president.

The indictment filed by the special counsel does not mention the Biden family by name, but there is little doubt it concerns them. The document states that the defendant is a former confidential source who gave the FBI false information about “a prominent political figure and his son.” The 37-page indictment contains even more obvious descriptions, making it clear that it is about the allegations against Hunter and Joe Biden.

“Despite repeated admonishments that he must provide truthful information to the FBI and that he must not fabricate evidence, the Defendant provided false derogatory information to the FBI about Public Official 1, an elected official in the Obama-Biden Administration who left office in January 2017, and Businessperson 1, the son of Public Official 1, in 2020, after Public Official 1 became a candidate for President of the United States of America,” the indictment states.

The indictment dismantles the main testimony against Joe Biden. Prosecutors say Smirnov was in contact with Burmese executives, but argue these were routine meetings that actually took place in 2017, after President Barack Obama and Biden, his vice-president, had left office. In other words, when Biden would not have been able to influence U.S. policy.

The special counsel says the defendant transformed his routine, non-extraordinary business contacts with the Ukrainian company Burisma into unsubstantiated bribery allegations against Joe Biden. According to the indictment, the defendant kept changing his version of events, contradicting himself and lying to fabricate the corruption scandal against Biden. He went so far as to fabricate false evidence, according to the document.

Smirnov’s false statement is what Republicans have been tightly grasping on to for years in their efforts to accuse Biden of corruption. They have issued subpoenas, taken witness statements, but despite their insistence, they continue to find no evidence of what they seek. The indictment against Smirnov is now a major blow to their case against the president.

Smirnov appeared briefly in court in Las Vegas on Thursday after being charged with making a false statement and creating a false and fictitious record, the Associated Press reported. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison. The judge ordered the courtroom cleared after federal public defender Margaret Wightman Lambrose requested a closed hearing to make her case for sealing court documents. She declined to comment on the case. The judge has set a detention hearing for February 20 for Smirnov, who was arrested at the Las Vegas airport after arriving in the United States from overseas.

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