“Asset of Russian intelligence”: Experts say shocking DOJ filing blows up GOP impeachment sham

James Comer; Jim Jordan Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
James Comer; Jim Jordan Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
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An FBI informant charged with lying about the Bidens claimed that "officials associated with Russian intelligence" were involved in passing a story about Hunter Biden, the Justice Department said in a filing on Tuesday.

Alexander Smirnov, a longtime FBI confidential source who was charged last week with fabricating bribery claims against the Bidens that have been hyped by Republicans pushing to impeach President Joe Biden, admitted to extensive ties to Russian intelligence after he was arrested last week, wrote special counsel David Weiss, who previously charged Hunter Biden with gun and tax violations.

“During his custodial interview on February 14, Smirnov admitted that officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved in passing a story about Businessperson 1,” the memo said, referring to Hunter Biden, according to The Washington Post.

Smirnov, who has worked with the FBI since 2010, claimed to have close ties to Russian intelligence and claimed he planned to meet with agents after his trip to the United States, according to the filing.

The filing also says Smirnov claimed that Russian officials intercepted the phone calls of Hunter Biden at a foreign hotel and “may use as ‘kompromat’ in the 2024 election.”

“Smirnov’s efforts to spread misinformation about a candidate of one of the two major parties in the United States continues,” prosecutors wrote. “What this shows is that the misinformation he is spreading is not confined to 2020. He is actively peddling new lies that could impact U.S. elections after meeting with Russian intelligence officials in November. In light of that fact there is a serious risk he will flee in order to avoid accountability for his actions.”

Hunter Biden’s lawyers in a filing accused prosecutors of following Smirnov “down his rabbit hole of lies” and made prosecutors less willing to accept a plea deal they had reached with him in July.

“It now seems clear that the Smirnov allegations infected this case,” Hunter Biden attorney Abbe Lowell wrote.

Smirnov’s claims are also at the heart of the Republican impeachment effort against Joe Biden. Smirnov claimed to his FBI handler that executives at the Ukrainian energy firm Burisma had bribed Hunter and Joe Biden $5 million each to “protect” them.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and House Oversight Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., hyped the allegation despite not presenting any corroborating evidence. Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., cited the FBI document memorializing Smirnov’s claims as a reason to move forward with impeachment. Fox News host Sean Hannity aired 85 segments on it, according to Politico.

“Based on the indictment and filing, it lays bare how unscrupulous the entire GOP and their enablers in right wing media have become,” a source close to Biden told the outlet. “Republicans in Congress ought to be facing the crushing burden of a massive scandal of their own making right now: An impeachment based on what might be a Russian intelligence operation. If nothing else, a criminal lie, based on the indictment.”

New York University Law Prof. Ryan Goodman, a former Pentagon special counsel, told CNN that the DOJ sought to block the pre-trial release of Smirnov because it views him as a “present risk” given his “extremely recent” contact with Russian officials trying to spread misinformation into the 2024 election.

Goodman said the new allegation “pulls the rug out” from under the basis for Biden impeachment proceedings.

“It’s really quite incredible,” Goodman said, pointing to McCarthy announcing the impeachment inquiry based on claims from Smirnov, who has since said they came from Russian intelligence officials.

“That’s quite devastating in terms of where it’s even brought us to this point as a country given that this is the source of some of that information,” he said.

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Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., who previously served as a Democratic Trump impeachment counsel, called out Comer and the Republicans, arguing that they have touted Smirnov’s allegation as “the best evidence they have.”

“It’s pretty shocking, especially what it means that has been going on for the last four years, which is that, wittingly or unwittingly, House Republicans have been acting as an agent or an asset of Russian intelligence for Vladimir Putin,” Goldman told CNN. “This whole Burisma thing was debunked during the first impeachment investigation in 2019 by numerous witnesses, all of whom were experts on Ukraine and Russia.”

Goldman said the document is “simply evidence that the Republicans “are willing to be used as assets of Russian intelligence, just like Donald Trump.”

“it now appears as if the House Republican majority is being used by Russia to interfere in the 2024 election on behalf of Donald Trump,” he added. “If they continue with this investigation, they are simply doing the work of Vladimir Putin to help Donald Trump win an election in November. That’s where we are.”