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Hunter Biden’s lawyer says informant charged with lying ‘infected’ the case

Hunter Biden’s lawyers argued in a court filing Tuesday that the indictment last week of an FBI informant for allegedly lying about the first family has tainted the federal charges against the president’s son.

The filing in Delaware federal court shows how Biden’s lawyers are moving quickly to incorporate the allegations against former confidential human source Alexander Smirnov into their defense of Hunter Biden for alleged gun and tax crimes.

While the charges against Smirnov are related to lies he allegedly told about Biden’s business dealings, not the gun or tax charges, Biden lawyer Abbe Lowell claimed that prosecutors relied on Smirnov’s account, which he said ended up scuttling a proposed plea deal for Biden.

Prosecutors, Lowell claimed, followed Smirnov “down his rabbit hole of lies.” The filing marks the latest strange twist in a case full of them — a defense lawyer accusing a prosecutor of believing someone the prosecutor has charged with lying.

Smirnov was charged last week with lying to the FBI when he claimed to have information about corrupt dealings by a prominent political figure and his son — Joe and Hunter Biden. The Smirnov indictment undercuts a central part of congressional Republicans’ claims that President Biden was part of a crooked scheme with his son to get millions of dollars out of a Ukrainian firm called Burisma.

Looming testimony of Biden relatives has high stakes for congressional probe

The charges were brought by special counsel David Weiss, the same prosecutor who separately charged Hunter Biden in a gun case in Delaware and a tax case in California.

Also on Tuesday, Weiss’s office filed court papers seeking to have Smirnov detained in custody while he awaits trial — citing the 2024 presidential election and Smirnov’s insistence that he has ties to Russian agents.

“During his custodial interview on February 14, Smirnov admitted that officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved in passing a story about Businessperson 1,” the prosecution memo states. Businessperson 1 is Hunter Biden, according to people familiar with the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it.

The memo goes on to say that Smirnov has repeatedly claimed close links with Russian intelligence officials, and even planned to meet with Russian intelligence shortly after his trip to the United States. And in conversations with the FBI in late 2023, the court filing says, he suggested that Russian officials “may use as ‘kompromat’ in the 2024 election” the contents of intercepted phone calls of Hunter Biden in a foreign hotel.

“Smirnov’s efforts to spread misinformation about a candidate of one of the two major parties in the United States continues,” the detention memo states. “What this shows is that the misinformation he is spreading is not confined to 2020. He is actively peddling new lies that could impact U.S. 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.”

Prosecutors also argued that Smirnov is a flight risk because he has significant wealth and has dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship.

In the separate Biden defense filing, Lowell said Smirnov’s allegations about the Bidens made prosecutors less willing to accept a plea deal last July.

“It now seems clear that the Smirnov allegations infected this case,” Lowell wrote.

However, people familiar with the Biden investigation, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe details they were not authorized to disclose, have long said that when Smirnov first made the Burisma-Biden allegations to the FBI in 2020, they were looked into and dropped later that year as unfounded.

In 2020, the Smirnov indictment alleges, the informant told FBI agents that he knew of conversations from 2015 or 2016 in which Burisma executives said they hired the Biden son “to protect us, through his dad, from all kinds of problems.” Those claims by Smirnov were false, the indictment alleges.

Nevertheless, his account was passed along to investigators in Delaware who were involved in the Hunter Biden investigation — a move which years later led to the charges against Smirnov.

Over the past year, an FBI document recounting Smirnov’s 2020 claims became a kind of cause célèbre among Republicans, who argued that the FBI had received and ignored incriminating evidence in their probe of Hunter Biden. FBI officials were repeatedly forced to answer questions about Smirnov’s claims from Republican lawmakers who said they were conducting their own investigation of alleged corruption by the Bidens. Law enforcement officials also faced accusations from conservatives that the FBI itself may be corrupt.

U.S. authorities said that when agents questioned Smirnov again in 2023, he repeated some past lies, changed other parts of his story and offered new falsehoods after claiming to have met with Russian officials.

Smirnov was arrested at a Las Vegas airport last week, when he flew into the United States from overseas, Justice Department officials said.

Last year, Weiss asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to appoint him as a special counsel, which formally gave him more independence in charging decisions. He subsequently charged Hunter Biden in Delaware with lying on gun purchase forms years ago. Weiss has also charged Hunter Biden in federal court in Los Angeles with multiple tax crimes.

The dual indictments of Hunter Biden, filed after the plea deal fell apart last year, mean that he could end up going on trial later this year — potentially twice — as his father runs for a second term as president.

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