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FBI informant accused of lying about the Bidens is rearrested

In World
February 24, 2024

The former FBI informant who was charged last week with making up false bribery claims central to the effort by Republicans in Congress to impeach President Biden was rearrested Thursday in Las Vegas.

Alexander Smirnov, 43, was taken into custody inside the law office of his attorneys, David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld, they said in a statement.

Federal prosecutors had argued that Smirnov, a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen with ties to Russian intelligence officials, was a flight risk.

Smirnov’s attorneys argued that he has not left Clark County, Nev., since his release earlier this week, and said the fact he was in their office at the time of his arrest proves he was not preparing to flee.

📢 When was Smirnov first arrested?

The court filing that argues Alexander Smirnov poses a flight risk.

The court filing that argues Alexander Smirnov poses a flight risk is seen on Feb. 16. (Jon Elswick/AP)

Smirnov was arrested by the FBI on Feb. 14 at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas after arriving from overseas, and charged with making false statements when he “provided false derogatory information to the FBI” about the Bidens.

“The Defendant’s story to the FBI was a fabrication,” prosecutors alleged in the indictment filed by special counsel David Weiss, a Trump appointee who has been leading the ongoing investigation into Hunter Biden.

Prosecutors alleged that Smirnov “transformed his routine and unextraordinary business contacts with Burisma” into bribery allegations against the Bidens.

🔎 What did he say about the Bidens?

President Biden and Hunter Biden walking down the steps after exiting Air Force One last year.

President Biden and Hunter Biden exit Air Force One in Syracuse, N.Y., on Feb. 4, 2023. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Smirnov alleged that executives from Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas company, told him that Hunter Biden, then a member of its board, and Joe Biden, then the vice president, were each paid $5 million in bribes to ensure the firing of Viktor Shokin, Ukraine’s top prosecutor.

The allegations formed the basis of the push by House Republicans to impeach Biden. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy called Smirnov a “credible” witness when he announced that House Republicans were moving forward with impeachment proceedings.

🇷🇺 What else did he tell the FBI?

Russian President Vladimir Putin clasps his hands at an event in Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin at an event in Moscow last week. (Getty Images)

In a court filing Tuesday, prosecutors revealed that Smirnov told federal agents that Russian intelligence officials fed him a story about Hunter Biden. They did not specify what the story was or clarify whether it was related to the bribery claims about the Biden family.

Smirnov also told the FBI that Russian intelligence “intercepted several calls placed by prominent U.S. persons the Russian government may use as ‘kompromat’ in the 2024 election.”

Kompromat means compromising material or damaging information that may be used to create negative publicity about a politician, a businessperson or other public figure.

🗓️ What’s next?

Smirnov is scheduled to appear in federal court on Friday in front of Judge Daniel Albregts, who will determine whether he should be kept in custody or released while he awaits trial. If convicted, Smirnov faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.

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