Prosecutors seek to jail Alexander Smirnov before trial for lying to government about Biden

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Federal prosecutors continued to argue Wednesday for the detention of Alexander Smirnov, an FBI informant charged with lying about Hunter Biden's overseas business dealings – a day after a magistrate in Nevada released him pending trial.

Smirnov was the source of false allegations against Hunter Biden and his father President Joe Biden in an overseas bribery scheme, according to the indictment. The bribery allegations are at the heart of House Republican impeachment proceedings against the president.

Prosecutors alleged in court documents Tuesday that Smirnov “had contact with foreign intelligence services, including Russian intelligence agencies."

Democrats cite the perjury charges and alleged Russian contacts as proof the allegations are baseless, but Republicans vowed to continue their probe.

“The impeachment investigation essentially ended yesterday, in substance if not in form, with the explosive revelation that Mr. Smirnov’s allegations about Ukraine and Burisma payments to Joe Biden were concocted along with Russian intelligence agents,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Oversight and Accountability Committee overseeing the impeachment inquiry. “It appears the whole thing is false and fraudulent but a product of Russian disinformation and propaganda.”

Millions of dollars and global contacts

Smirnov has access to $6 million, has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Israel, and has contacts in the international intelligence community who could resettle him in another country, according to Justice Department special counsel David Weiss, who wants to jail him pending trial. Smirnov is charged with lying to his FBI handlers and can't be trusted to face charges at trial, prosecutors argued.

"No condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the defendant Alexander Smirnov as required,” Weiss said in the filing to U.S. Judge Otis Wright.

The request came a day after U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel Albregts released Smirnov.

Here is what we know about the case:

Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, makes an appearance at The House Committee on Oversight and Accountability hearing to Markup: 1 H.Res. on Jan. 10, 2024, recommending that the House of Representatives find Robert Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with a subpoena duly issued by the Committee on Oversight and Accountability.

What are the charges against Smirnov?

Smirnov, 43, was charged with two counts of making a false statement and creating a false and fictitious record for information he fed the FBI. He was arrested Wednesday at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas after a federal grand jury indicted him in Los Angeles.

Smirnov is accused of falsely claiming to the FBI that executives of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma admitted to him in 2015 and 2016 that they hired Hunter Biden to “protect us, through his dad, from all kinds of problems." Hunter Biden was a Burisma board member.

Smirnov made the claim to investigators in June 2020 when Joe Biden was a presidential candidate. According to U.S. intelligence agencies, Russia sought to help Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Biden's opponent in 2020, in that election and in 2016.

Prosecutors say Smirnov also lied about Burisma executives telling him they paid $5 million apiece to then-Vice President Joe Biden and Hunter so that Hunter "will take care of all those issues through his dad."

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, (L) and House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., speaks to the media in the Rayburn House Office Building on December 13, 2023 in Washington, DC.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, (L) and House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., speaks to the media in the Rayburn House Office Building on December 13, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Smirnov key to House GOP impeachment inquiry

House Republicans have cited Smirnov's story about Hunter Biden's business dealings in their impeachment inquiry of the president.

"It doesn't change the facts," Jordan said, adding that Smirnov's indictment will "not at all" affect the impeachment inquiry.

Joe Biden has denied any involvement in his son's or brother's business deals, calling the accusations "lies." The House GOP has not yet found any direct links to the president.

Rep. William Timmons, R-S.C., said lawmakers will determine whether Smirnov was lying for Russian intelligence. He called the charges "suspicious."

"But that does not have any impact on the enormous amount of circumstantial evidence we have that Hunter and Jim Biden were selling Joe Biden's policy decisions for millions of dollars," Timmons said. "The fact that they're looking at this now, years later, while we're in the midst of this, is suspicious."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Smirnov is flight risk because of his Russian intelligence contacts: DOJ