Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

FBI informant charged with lying about Biden could threaten US elections with Russian intel, DOJ warns

Ex-informant got dirt on Hunter Biden from Russian intelligence and is ‘actively peddling’ lies that threaten elections, according to prosecutors

Alex Woodward
Wednesday 21 February 2024 00:32 GMT
Comments
Putin explains why he wants Biden, not Trump, to win US election

A former FBI informant charged with fabricating corruption allegations against President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden is “actively peddling new lies” that threaten US elections after meeting with Russian intelligence officials, according to federal law enforcement.

Alexander Smirnov – who allegedly “provided false derogatory information” about the president and his son in interviews with the FBI – told authorities that he has “extensive and extremely recent” contacts with foreign intelligence officials, according to the US Department of Justice.

A court filing from the office of special counsel David Weiss on Tuesday seeking Mr Smirnov’s pretrial detention claims that he has “contacts with multiple foreign intelligence agencies and had plans to leave the United States two days” following last week’s arrest.

After his arrest, he told law enforcement that “officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved in passing a story” about Hunter Biden, prosecutors wrote.

Mr Smirnov “has reported numerous contacts” with a Russian intelligence official 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, a Russian representative to another country, and as someone with ties to a particular Russian intelligence service,” according to the filing.

His “anticipated travel … was for the purpose of meeting with Russian intelligence officials, among others,” prosecutors wrote.

His efforts to “spread misinformation” about the president are ongoing, they added.

“The misinformation he is spreading is not confined to 2020. He is actively peddling new lies that could impact US elections after meeting with Russian intelligence officials in November,” according to prosecutors. “In light of that fact there is a serious risk he will flee in order to avoid accountability for his actions.”

In one instance, Mr Smirnov claimed that Russian intelligence officials, staked out of a “club” at a hotel, had intercepted several calls “placed by prominent US persons the Russian government may use as ‘kompromat’ in the 2024 election, depending on who the candidates will be”.

The filing on Tuesday goes on to list several other alleged meetings and descriptions of interactions with Russian intelligence officials from Mr Smirnov. Such meetings are “not benign,” according to prosecutors.

A grand jury indictment accuses Mr Smirnov of making false allegations to FBI agents in June 2020, when he allegedly told them about two meetings with an executive from Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company which employed Hunter Biden as an attorney and later as a member of its corporate board.

Mr Smirnov allegedly told agents that “executives associated with Burisma … admitted to him that they hired [Hunter Biden] to ‘protect us, through his dad, from all kinds of problems”.

He also allegedly told agents that the Burisma executives made $5m payments to both Joe and Hunter Biden when Joe Biden was vice president, as part of an alleged effort to “take care” of issues stemming from a criminal probe involving Burisma and Ukraine.

Hunter Biden appears at a Republican-led House Oversight Committee hearing on 10 January (REUTERS)

The allegations have figured prominently in unsubstantiated claims from Republican members of Congress who have been conducting an impeachment investigation into President Biden.

Last week, attorneys for Hunter Biden alleged that Mr Smirnov’s allegations sought to derail a planned plea arrangement between the president’s son and federal prosecutors last year.

“It now seems clear that the Smirnov allegations infected this case,” according to the younger Biden’s attorneys.

His statements sent US officials down a “rabbit hole of lies,” they wrote.

Mr Weiss’s special counsel office is leading parallel criminal cases against Hunter Biden, who faces three charges related to an illegal purchase and possession of a gun, as well as nine tax-related charges for his alleged failure to avoid paying $1.4m in taxes owed between 2016 and 2019. He has pleaded not guilty in both cases.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in