Who is Smirnov, and What Does His Indictment Mean for Biden’s Corruption Investigation? 

Motortion Films / shutterstock.com
Motortion Films / shutterstock.com

Alexander Smirnov, a former FBI informant, faces charges of lying to the FBI about a bribery scheme implicating President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden, and Ukrainian energy company Burisma. Smirnov had been an informant since 2010. 

In June 2020, Smirnov informed his FBI handler that Burisma executives allegedly paid $5 million each to Hunter and Joe Biden in 2015 and 2016, purportedly in exchange for favorable treatment from the US government. These claims emerged within a Republican initiative aiming to impeach President Biden and scrutinize his family for alleged corruption and foreign influence in Ukraine.  

On February 15, 2024, Smirnov was arrested in Las Vegas upon his return from an overseas trip and charged with two counts of providing false statements to the FBI. He confessed to lying to the FBI and expressed his disdain for President Biden, additionally disclosing his contacts with Russian intelligence officials involved in disseminating misinformation about Hunter Biden. In November 2023, he met with a senior Russian foreign intelligence service member. 

Prosecutors highlighted the recent and extensive nature of Smirnov’s interactions with Russian officials, emphasizing his active propagation of new falsehoods that could impact the 2024 US election. Smirnov was released from custody on electronic GPS monitoring on February 20, 2024, and awaits trial. If convicted, he could face up to 25 years in prison. 

Prosecutors have outlined possible reasons behind Smirnov’s actions. According to court filings, Smirnov held a grudge against President Biden and wanted to harm his reputation. He also tried to profit financially by offering false information to a media outlet. Furthermore, it’s believed that Smirnov may have been influenced or manipulated by his connections with Russian intelligence, who allegedly spread false information about the Bidens. 

Democrats are cheering Smirnov’s arrest. His charges have significant implications for the Republican impeachment case against President Biden, which relied heavily on Smirnov’s claims about the Bidens and Burisma. It also suggests potential Russian involvement in spreading misinformation about Hunter Biden, which could affect the 2024 US election. 

Now, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) wants an investigation into Rep. James Comer (R-KY), who cited Smirnov as a key witness, and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) doubled down on his narrative that the GOP’s impeachment effort is based on lies. 

Even Hunter Biden is trying to cash in on Smirnov’s arrest. In legal documents filed on Tuesday, attorneys representing Hunter Biden suggested that an accusation of bribery made by a recently indicted ex-FBI informant might have played a role in the collapse of their client’s plea agreement with prosecutors last year. 

The lawyers argued that the unraveling of Hunter Biden’s deal coincided with the Justice Department’s investigation into the informant’s allegations of corruption within the Biden family. In the court filings submitted on Tuesday, Abbe Lowell, Hunter Biden’s lawyer, criticized Weiss for supposedly pursuing the informant, Smirnov, and believing in his false claims. 

House Republicans aren’t worried about losing Smirnov as a witness in their impeachment inquiry against President Biden. Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, appeared unfazed by Smirnov’s arrest and emphasized the importance of continuing the inquiry.  

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. James Comer, chair of the House Oversight Committee, adjusted their interview request letter to a former State Department official, removing the reference to Smirnov. Meanwhile, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, voiced disappointment over Smirnov’s deceitful actions and expressed hope that the FBI would investigate his connections with Russian intelligence.  

But the House Oversight Committee is not giving up its investigation. Comer said the impeachment inquiry doesn’t hinge on Smirnov’s accusations but rather on additional evidence and witness accounts indicating that Joe Biden was aware of and engaged in his family’s business affairs. 

Republicans have acquired thousands of pages of financial records from banks and tax authorities, connecting the money trails between the Bidens and their overseas business associates. Additionally, the committee scrutinized numerous emails and texts from Hunter Biden’s laptop and other devices, revealing extensive communication and coordination within the Biden circle.  

House Republicans have conducted numerous interviews with witnesses and whistleblowers who know firsthand the Bidens’ business affairs and corruption. The committee has also secured transcripts and recordings of phone conversations and meetings involving the Bidens and their foreign counterparts, including Ukrainian officials and Chinese entrepreneurs, some of which included instances where Joe Biden exerted pressure or made threats to favor his family’s interests. 

Small wonder, then, that House Republicans are shrugging off Smirnov’s false testimony. The Democrats are counting it as a significant victory, but Republicans are ignoring a minor inconvenience.