Indicted ex-FBI informant admitted Russian intelligence officials passed along the Hunter Biden bribery story, prosecutors say

Hunter Biden and Joe Biden
Hunter Biden (left) and his father President Joe Biden (right).Andrew Harnik/AP; Insider
  • A witness in the GOP's effort to impeach Biden was indicted last week on suspicion of lying to the FBI.

  • Alexander Smirnov is charged with falsifying records that the Bidens took bribes from Burisma Holdings.

  • Smirnov said Russian intelligence passed along the story of the bribery claims, per a court filing.

Alexander Smirnov, an ex-FBI informant, admitted in a post-arrest interrogation that Russian intelligence sources were behind his claims that Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden accepted bribes from the Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings, according to new court filings.

Smirnov, an ex-FBI informant, was arrested last week, and federal prosecutors indicted him on charges of lying to officials and falsifying records related to his claims that both Joe Biden and Hunter Biden each accepted $5 million dollar bribes from Burisma Holdings officials to protect the company and its executives "from all kinds of problems."

The GOP has touted Smirnov as a star "whistleblower" witness in their efforts to impeach President Joe Biden.

Representatives for the White House and lawyers for Smirnov and Hunter Biden did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Business Insider.

Smirnov first claimed that the Bidens accepted bribes in reports to his FBI handler in June 2020. His allegations were based on several purported meetings he had with officials from Burisma Holdings. In the reported meetings, Smirnov claimed Burisma officials said the bribes to the Bidens would enable Hunter Biden to quash, through his father, a criminal investigation that the then-Ukrainian Prosecutor General was conducting into the company.

The events Smirnov recounted to his FBI handler in June 2020 "were fabrications," prosecutors alleged in the pre-trial detention memo filed Tuesday, which states Smirnov only had contact with Burisma executives after the end of the Obama-Biden administration and after the then-Ukrainian Prosecutor General had been fired in February 2016.

"In other words, when Public Official 1 had no ability to influence US policy and when the Prosecutor General was no longer in office," the memo reads. "In short, Smirnov transformed his routine and unextraordinary business contacts with Burisma in 2017 and later into bribery allegations against Public Official 1, the presumptive nominee of one of the two major political parties for President, after expressing bias against Public Official 1 and his candidacy."

Following his February 14 arrest at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas, Smirnov "admitted that officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved" in passing along the story, prosecutors with special counsel David Weiss' office noted in a pretrial memo. The memo also indicates that Smirnov met with Russian intelligence officials as recently as December of 2023.

A potential flight risk?

Smirnov has not responded directly to the allegations against him, though he appeared at a detention hearing on Tuesday. Through his lawyers, Smirnov has filed a motion to be released pending trial, arguing he is not a flight risk.

"The fact that the Government knew about Mr. Smirnov's alleged conduct for years — yet took no steps to end his cooperation, seize his passports, or prosecute him for anything — should be kept firmly in mind when (as expected) the Government reverses course in this bail proceeding and suddenly protests that Mr. Smirnov now presents an 'extreme flight risk' who must be detained pending his initial appearance in the Central District of California," Smirnov's lawyers argued in the motion to release him ahead of trial.

But prosecutors allege that Smirnov's "efforts to spread misinformation about a candidate of one of the two major parties in the United States" is ongoing, which warrants his continued detention.

"The Court should consider this conduct as well when evaluating his personal history and characteristics. What this shows is that the misinformation he is spreading is not confined to 2020," the prosecutor's memo in favor of detention reads. "He is actively peddling new lies that could impact US 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."

A judge ultimately sided with Smirnov, CNN reported, releasing him pending trial on the condition that he be subjected to GPS monitoring and surrender his American and Israeli passports.

Impact of Smirnov's indictment

Smirnov's indictment and arrest may have an impact on unrelated gun charges facing Hunter Biden. Lawyers for the president's son argued in a separate Tuesday filing that special counsel David Weiss relied on Smirnov's allegations of bribery to blow up a plea deal Hunter Biden had agreed to last year.

Weiss did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

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