No, the ‘Hunter Biden’s problems are a Russian plot’ narrative has not suddenly come true

Hunter Biden is under fire (again)
Hunter Biden is under fire (again) - Jose Luis Magana/AP
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Many Democrats now say that the arrest last week of Alexander Smirnov, an FBI informant, has fatally undermined allegations that the president’s son, Hunter Biden, accepted payments to deliver his father’s influence for clients. The long-standing suggestions that Hunter and his father have been the victims of a Russian disinformation campaign have resurfaced.

I’ve reviewed the Department of Justice (DOJ) detention request and indictment and I think the Smirnov affair raises important questions about the FBI but settles none regarding the Biden family and its business dealings.

David Weiss, the special counsel appointed to investigate Hunter Biden, has now charged Mr Smirnov, 43, a dual US-Israeli citizen, with making a false statement and creating a false and fictitious record. He could face an extraordinary jail term of 25 years if convicted. The DOJ now claims that Smirnov, an FBI “confidential human source”, cooked up allegations that Hunter Biden persuaded Ukrainian energy firm Burisma into paying him and his father to “protect us, through his dad, from all kinds of problems”. Prosecutors also document several recent meetings Smirnov had with what they imprecisely call “Russian officials associated with Russian intelligence”.

How did our crack operatives at the FBI uncover Mr Smirnov’s contacts with shady Russian spooks? According to the charging papers, he told his FBI handler of ten years all about it!

Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD) claims the Smirnov affair proves that the corruption case against the Bidens is “a product of Russian disinformation and propaganda”. Hunter Biden’s attorneys now claim that Smirnov’s allegedly bogus bribery claims have “infected” Weiss’ tax and gun cases against him.

But if Vladimir Putin wanted to plant bribery allegations on the Bidens, why make it so obvious? Surely if Mr Smirnov was a double agent working on behalf of Russia, he wouldn’t have boasted of his recent meetings with Russian intelligence officials, right?

Smirnov has reportedly made about $200,000 working as an FBI informant since 2010, and when Republicans sought documents from the FBI regarding his claims last year, the FBI initially refused, arguing he was too valuable a source to risk exposing. The charging papers say Mr. Smirnov “participated in a number of operations where he was authorized to engage in criminal activity as part of an on-going criminal investigation”. Even these days, the FBI doesn’t trust just anyone to commit crimes – and it seems selective in who is prosecuted – so Smirnov’s handlers must have trusted him implicitly. The prosecutors also stated that his most recent handler communicated with him on a near-daily basis for the last ten years.

Imagine communicating with someone that frequently for a decade but only just now realizing they’re a fraud. And Mr Smirnov does sound like a fraud and a compulsive liar according to the case documents. For example, he claimed to have just $5,000 in liquid assets but has access to about $3 million, just in one checking account. He also claimed to have had recent meetings with high-ranking Russian intelligence officials to “discuss a potential resolution to Russia’s war against Ukraine”. Huh?

The Smirnov affair appears to be a sideshow from the main allegations against the Biden family, which are in large part based on information from other sources than Smirnov – for instance Hunter’s famous laptop, now acknowledged to be his even by own legal team – and not a Russian plot despite hopeful suggestions from the US intelligence community.

Hunter Biden business partners Devon Archer and Tony Bobulinski have testified that Hunter was indeed selling access and favors from the “Big Guy”. And IRS whistleblowers Gary Shapley and Joe Ziegler testified to Congress that the DOJ impeded and stonewalled the Hunter Biden investigation at every turn.

The left is giddy about the Smirnov arrest, claiming he was the GOP’s “star witness” against the Bidens. But in a fact check, The Washington Examiner correctly points out that he wasn’t even scheduled to be a witness, and the GOP’s investigation predates Smirnov’s allegations. Smirnov was just one component of a complex investigation that must and will continue without him.

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