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Indicted Biden accuser had 'extensive' contacts with Russian intel, prosecutors say

An FBI informant charged with lying to investigators about a fictitious bribery scheme involving President Joe Biden, his son Hunter and a Ukrainian energy company has “had contact with foreign intelligence services, including Russian intelligence agencies,” prosecutors alleged in court documents on Tuesday.

Alexander Smirnov's contacts included a figure prosecutors called "Russian Official 1," whom the the informant allegedly described as "the son of a former high-ranking Russian government official, someone who purportedly controls two groups of individuals tasked with carrying out assassination efforts in a third-party country."

Smirnov was indicted last week on charges he lied to the FBI, falsely telling them that executives with now-defunct Ukrainian energy company Burisma had paid Hunter and Joe Biden $5 million each in bribes.

The informant's claims have been a pillar of a months-long effort by congressional Republicans to impeach the president.

But Special Counsel David Weiss, who is prosecuting Hunter Biden on gun and tax charges, alleged on Feb. 16 that Smirnov had spun up a false story, and he was arrested at a Las Vegas airport after returning from overseas.

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Russia contacts were 'extensive and extremely recent,' special counsel says

Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, appeared at a hearing by the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability recommending that he be found in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena to testify behind closed doors. He later agreed to testify.
Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, appeared at a hearing by the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability recommending that he be found in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena to testify behind closed doors. He later agreed to testify.

In a 28-page memo submitted Tuesday opposing bail for Smirnov, prosecutors said Smirov had admitted to having contacts with foreign intelligence services from countries including Russia.

“While Smirnov has no ties to the community in Las Vegas, what he does have is extensive foreign ties, including, most troublingly and by his own account, contact with foreign intelligence services, including Russian intelligence agencies, and has had such contacts recently,” Weiss wrote to the court. “Smirnov could use these contacts to resettle outside the United States” if released on bail.

Weiss said that prosecutors were aware of Smirnov’s spy connections because he had shared them with his FBI handlers. Smirnov began working as an FBI informant in 2010 and was authorized to break some laws in that role, prosecutors said.

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“As noted, law enforcement knows about Smirnov’s contact with officials affiliated with Russian intelligence because Smirnov himself reported on a number of those contacts to his FBI Handler,” Weiss wrote, adding, “...these contacts are extensive and extremely recent, and Smirnov had the intention of meeting with one of these officials on his upcoming planned overseas travel.”

In October 2023, Smirnov reported "numerous contacts" with the person he described to his FBI handlers as the chief of two Russian assassination squads, and "as someone with ties to a particular Russian intelligence service," the memo said.

The informant also told his handlers of a "recent" overseas meeting with a second official, who he described as "a high-ranking member of a specific Russian foreign intelligence service," Weiss said.

Millions of dollars

Lawyers for Smirnov and Hunter Biden couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

In arguing against bail, prosecutors said that Smirnov “has access to over $6 million in liquid funds – more than enough money for him to live comfortably overseas for the rest of his life,” and that he lied to the court about his assets, claiming to have only $1,500 in cash and $5,000 in a checking account.

In reality, the memorandum says, Smirnov had access to $2.9 million and his partner had $3.8 million.

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'Public Official 1': President Biden

President Biden is identified in the memorandum as "Public Official 1, an elected official in the Obama-Biden Administration who left office in January 2017," while Hunter Biden is referred to as "Businessperson 1."

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. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that 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."

Contributing: Joey Garrison, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Special Counsel: Biden accuser Smirnov had 'extensive' Russia ties