Republican: Colleagues were warned informant’s Biden claims were not verified

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) on Wednesday criticized his Republican colleagues for using a former FBI informant’s claims in their impeachment inquiry even though the statements hadn’t been verified.

“We were warned at the time that we received the document outlining this witness’s testimony. … We were warned that the credibility of this statement was not known,” Buck said on CNN’s “The Source.”

“And yet, people, my colleagues went out and talk to the public about how this was credible and how it was damning and how it proved President Biden’s — at the time Vice President Biden’s — complicity in receiving bribes,” he added.

The informant, Alexander Smirnov, was arrested and charged last week with making false statements to the FBI. He had previously told the FBI that President Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, received $5 million bribes from the head of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma.

House Republicans have previously put that claim at the front and center of their investigations into the Bidens. Buck said it is evident now that the information Smirnov relayed was false.

“It appears to absolutely be false, and to really undercut the nature of the charges. We’ve always been looking for a link between what Hunter Biden received in terms of money and Joe Biden’s activities or Joe Biden receiving money,” Buck explained. “This clearly is not a credible link at this point.”

On Wednesday, CNN anchor Kaitlan Collins then asked the Colorado Republican if House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) used the information “to fuel these investigations, regardless” of them knowing the information was not corroborated.

“That’s what it appears,” Buck responded. “I certainly didn’t have any evidence outside the statement itself that it was credible. And as a prosecutor for 25 years, Kaitlan, I never went to the public until I could prove the reliability of a statement.”

But Jordan and Comer, who are leading the impeachment inquiry, have pushed back on the idea that Smirnov’s arrest dealt a blow to the investigation.

Jordan on Wednesday said it “doesn’t change the fundamental facts” of the Republican case against the president.

They have also said that while 1023 form that contained the informant’s tip is only used to memorialize — not verify — information, they had been told the source was credible, and U.S. Attorney Scott Brady also told the panel in a transcribed interview that the document warranted further investigation.

“Chris Wray told us this confidential human source was so important he couldn’t even let us see the 1023, if you remember that fight we had a year ago,” Jordan told reporters Wednesday, referring to the FBI director.

A spokesman for the House Oversight Committee made the same point on Thursday and slammed Buck’s comments.

“Representative Buck’s insight would be valuable if he actually attended the FBI briefing on the FD-1023 form, but he didn’t. Representative Buck would have known the FBI informed Chairman Comer and Ranking Member Raskin that the confidential human source who provided information about then-Vice President Biden was deemed credible and paid over six figures since 2010.”

When asked Wednesday if it was time to shut down the impeachment inquiry, Buck said he did not know.

“When all the evidence is given — and I don’t want to judge the evidence one way or the other until I have a chance to sit down with the investigators and go through the evidence. But this certainly undermines a lot if the — if the impeachment inquiry was based on this witness, it undermines the credibility of this impeachment,” he said.

“I will say that it’s suspicious that anybody would pay Hunter Biden as much money as they paid him without any expertise in the oil and gas industry without any expertise in international banking,” he continued. “So those things are suspicious, but again, there’s no link directly to Vice President Biden’s activities.”

Updated at 12:25 p.m.

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