Hunter Biden's lawyers suggest his case is tainted by claims of ex-FBI informant charged with lying

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hunter Biden ’s lawyers suggested Tuesday that claims made by a former FBI informant charged with fabricating a bribery scheme involving the presidential family may have tainted the case against the president’s son.

The gun and tax charges against Hunter Biden are separate from the claims made by the informant, Alexander Smirnov, who has been charged with making up a bribery scheme involving President Joe Biden, his son and a Ukrainian energy company.

But Hunter Biden’s attorneys say the chatter over the informant contributed to the collapse of the plea deal offered to Hunter Biden last summer.

The filing comes as Hunter Biden continues his public offensive over claims about his professional life and drug use that have been central to Congressional investigations and an impeachment inquiry that seeks to tie his business dealings to his father.

The president’s son is charged with lying on a form about his drug use to buy a gun in 2018. He has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyers say one photo that prosecutors used as evidence of cocaine use was actually a photo of sawdust sent by his therapist to encourage him to stay clean.

The Justice Department special counsel overseeing the case against him also filed the charges against Smirnov last week. He is accused of falsely reporting to the FBI in June 2020 that executives associated with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma paid Hunter and Joe Biden $5 million each in 2015 or 2016.

But before that case was filed, the prosecution followed the informant “down his rabbit hole of lies,” defense attorneys said in court documents. The special counsel's office started investigating Smirnov's claims three years after he originally reported them to his handler, in July 2023. The plea deal imploded around the same time, after prosecutors indicated that an investigation into bribery allegations remained open, defense attorneys said in court documents.

A spokesperson for special counsel David Weiss declined to comment. Prosecutors have previously said that the evidence against Hunter Biden is “overwhelming,” including cocaine residue found on the pouch used to hold his gun, and rejected the defense contention that the charges were politically motivated.

Hunter Biden is also charged in Los Angeles, accused of failing to pay $1.4 million in taxes while living an “extravagant lifestyle.” Both cases stem from the time when he acknowledged being addicted to drugs.

The cases were filed by special counsel David Weiss, who also charged Smirnov with lying to the FBI in an indictment filed last week. Smirnov's defense attorneys are pressing for his release from custody.

The charges against Hunter Biden were filed after the collapse of a plea deal that would have avoided the possibility of a trial while his father is campaigning for another term as president. The deal imploded, though, during a hearing in July, around the same time prosecutors from the special counsel’s office started looking into the informant’s claims at the request of the FBI, according to court documents.


Associated Press writer Rio Yamat in Las Vegas contributed to this report.

Lindsay Whitehurst, The Associated Press