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Prosecutors say Russian intelligence behind FBI informant’s Hunter Biden claim

ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, talks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, on Dec. 13. A former FBI informant charged with making up a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme involving President Joe Biden, his son Hunter and a Ukrainian energy company had contacts with officials affiliated with Russian intelligence, prosecutors said in a court paper today.
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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, talks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, on Dec. 13. A former FBI informant charged with making up a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme involving President Joe Biden, his son Hunter and a Ukrainian energy company had contacts with officials affiliated with Russian intelligence, prosecutors said in a court paper today.

LAS VEGAS >> A former FBI informant charged with making up a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme involving President Joe Biden, his son Hunter and a Ukrainian energy company had contacts with officials affiliated with Russian intelligence, prosecutors said in a court paper today.

Prosecutors revealed the alleged contact as they urged a judge to keep Alexander Smirnov behind bars while he awaits trial. He’s charged with 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. The claim has been central to the Republican impeachment inquiry in Congress.

Smirnov is due in court later today in Las Vegas. He has been in custody at a facility in rural Pahrump, about an hour drive west of Las Vegas, since his arrest last week at the airport while returning from overseas.

Defense attorneys David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld said in a statement ahead of the hearing that they were asking for Smirnov’s release while he awaits trial “so he can effectively fight the power of the government.”

Prosecutors said that during an interview before his arrest last week, Smirnov admitted that “officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved in passing a story” about Hunter Biden. They said Smirnov’s contacts with Russian officials were recent and extensive, and said Smirnov had planned to meet with one official during an upcoming overseas trip.

They said Smirnov has had numerous contacts with a person he described as the “son of a former high-ranking government official” and “someone with ties to a particular Russian intelligence service.” They said there is a serious risk that Smirnov could flee overseas to avoid facing trial.

The White House didn’t immediately comment on the claims in today’s court filing.

Prosecutors say Smirnov, who holds dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship, falsely reported 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.

Smirnov in fact had only routine business dealings with the company starting in 2017 and made the bribery allegations after he “expressed bias” against Joe Biden while he was a presidential candidate, prosecutors said in court documents. He is charged with making a false statement and creating a false and fictitious record. The charges were filed in Los Angeles, where he lived for 16 years before relocating to Las Vegas two years ago.

Smirnov’s claims have been central to the Republican effort in Congress to investigate the president and his family, and helped spark what is now a House impeachment inquiry into Biden. Democrats called for an end to the probe after the indictment came down last week, while Republicans distanced the inquiry from Smirnov’s claims and said they would continue to “follow the facts.”

Hunter Biden is expected to give a deposition next week.

The Burisma allegations became a flashpoint in Congress as Republicans pursuing investigations of President Biden and his family demanded the FBI release the unredacted form documenting the allegations. They acknowledged they couldn’t confirm if the allegations were true.

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