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Who Is Alexander Smirnov? FBI Informant Helped Spark Biden Impeachment Probe—And Could End It


Alexander Smirnov, the FBI informant arrested and charged last week for lying to the agency, is the source of an explosive bribery allegation against President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden that unraveled over the past week—and may doom the GOP’s impeachment inquiry into Biden.

Rep. James Comer (R-KY) speaks with reporters outside the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on … [+] January 18, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)

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Smirnov, 43 and an Israeli citizen, was arrested Thursday in Las Vegas and charged with obstruction and making false statements to the FBI, special counsel David Weiss’ office said in an indictment alleging he fabricated stories about President Joe Biden’s involvement with a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, that his son Hunter Biden served on the board of.

Prosecutors allege Smirnov lied when he told the FBI in June 2020 that he had contact with Burisma executives in 2015 and 2016 who told him they hired Hunter Biden (specified as “Business Person 1” in court documents) to “protect us, through his dad … from all kinds of problems” and the company paid $5 million to both Hunter and Joe Biden to “take care of” an investigation the Ukrainian prosecutor general was conducting into Burisma at the time.

The allegations, which were never verified by the FBI, are a critical detail in House Republicans’ long-running probe-turned-impeachment inquiry into whether the president used his influence to aid his son’s business dealings.

In court documents released Tuesday, the Justice Department alleged Smirnov told the FBI that Russian intelligence officials fed him information about Hunter Biden, and on Wednesday the agency asked that Smirnov stay jailed pending trial.

Prosecutors accuse Smirnov of repeated, extensive lies about both the information he claims to have obtained from Burisma executives and his own background, including a claim he made in September that Hunter Biden was recorded making phone calls at a Ukrainian hotel where Russian intelligence routinely tapped “prominent US persons” for “kompromat,” or compromising information, that could be used in the 2024 election.

Justice Department officials blew significant holes in Smirnov’s stories, noting Smirnov had “routine and unextraordinary” contacts with Burisma in 2017, when Biden wasn’t working in the White House and after the Ukrainian prosecutor general had been fired, and also said the agency knew the hotel wire-tapping story was false because Hunter Biden “never traveled to Ukraine.”

Oversight Chairman Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) downplayed the role of Smirnov’s bribery allegations in Republicans’ impeachment inquiry in response to the DOJ charges. The probe, Comer said, “is based on a large record of evidence, including bank records and witness testimony, revealing that Joe Biden knew of and participated in his family’s business dealings.” Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) also dismissed the significance of Smirnov, telling CNN Wednesday Hunter Biden was not qualified to be on the Burisma board, insisting the “fundamental facts” of the inquiry have not changed.

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“The impeachment investigation essentially ended yesterday in substance if not in form with the explosive revelation that Mr. Smirnov’s allegations about Ukrainian Burisma payments to Joe Biden were concocted along with Russian intelligence agents,” Oversight Committee ranking member, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), told reporters Wednesday.

Smirnov’s bribery allegations are among the most explosive accusations Republicans have cited in opening a House impeachment inquiry into the president. “Even a trusted FBI informant has alleged a bribe to the Biden family,” then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in September while announcing he had instructed the House Judiciary, Oversight and Ways and Means Committees to open the probe. The House subsequently voted in December to authorize the inquiry. While witnesses interviewed by the committee have claimed that the president was casually associated with some of his son’s business partners, none of the evidence has suggested Biden financially benefited from his family’s business dealings, and the president has maintained that he had no direct involvement.

The president’s brother, James Biden, told the Oversight and Judiciary Committees on Wednesday the president has never been involved with or benefitted from his business ventures. The committee has alleged that two checks it obtained for “loan repayments” from James Biden and his wife, Sara, to the president came from “laundered China money” stemming from a joint 2017 venture James and Hunter Biden attempted to set up with a Chinese energy company. A Biden campaign spokesperson broadly denied the allegations when they were launched in 2020, asserting “Joe Biden has never even considered being involved in business with his family, nor in any overseas business whatsoever.”

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