“For months, we have warned that Republicans have built their conspiracies about Hunter and his family on lies told by people with political agendas, not facts,” Abbe Lowell, Hunter Biden’s lawyer, said in a statement. “We were right, and the air is out of their balloon.”


The special counsel investigating Hunter Biden has charged a former F.B.I. informant with fabricating claims that President Biden and his son each sought $5 million bribes from a Ukrainian company — a stinging setback for Republicans who cited the allegations in their push to impeach the president.

The longtime informant, Alexander Smirnov, 43, is accused of falsely telling the F.B.I. that Hunter Biden, then a paid board member of the energy giant Burisma, demanded the money to protect the company from an investigation by the country’s prosecutor general at the time.

The explosive story, which seemed to back up unsubstantiated Republican claims of a “Biden crime family,” turned out to be a brazen lie, according to a 37-page indictment unsealed late Thursday in a California federal court, brought by the special counsel, David C. Weiss.

Mr. Smirnov’s motivation for lying, prosecutors wrote, appears to have been political. During the 2020 campaign, he sent his F.B.I. handler “a series of messages expressing bias” against Joseph R. Biden Jr., including texts, replete with typos and misspellings, boasting that he had information that would put him in jail.

Republicans pressured the F.B.I. to release internal reports after they learned of Mr. Smirnov’s claims. In May last year, Representative James R. Comer of Kentucky, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, threatened to hold the bureau’s director, Christopher A. Wray, in contempt if he did not disclose some details.

In July, after Mr. Wray complied, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa released a copy of an F.B.I. record that included the false allegation without naming Mr. Smirnov, or questioning its veracity.

Grassley described Mr. Smirnov’s claims as “very significant allegations from a trusted F.B.I. informant implicating then-Vice President Biden in a criminal bribery scheme.”

F.B.I. officials did not seem to think much of Mr. Smirnov’s allegations from the start, and requested he provide travel receipts to prove he attended meetings cited in his report. In 2020, they concluded that his claims did not merit continued investigation, and told senior Trump administration officials in the Justice Department of that decision, prosecutors wrote.

Mr. Smirnov now faces two charges of making false statements and obstructing the government’s long-running investigation into the president’s troubled son. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.

Mr. Smirnov is a globe-trotting businessman who speaks Russian and who became an F.B.I. informant in 2010.

He was arrested in Las Vegas on Wednesday after disembarking from an international flight and detained pending a hearing on Tuesday.

Mr. Smirnov falsely claimed to his bureau handler in 2020 that in 2015 or 2016 Hunter Biden promised to protect the company “through his dad, from all kinds of problems.”  

This claim was easily disproved, prosecutors said: Mr. Smirnov was only in contact with Burisma executives in 2017, after Mr. Biden left office — when he “had no ability to influence U.S. policy.”

Mr. Smirnov told F.B.I. investigators that he had seen footage of Hunter Biden entering a hotel in Kyiv, Ukraine, that was “wired” by the Russians, suggesting that Russia may have recorded phone calls made by Mr. Biden from the hotel, according to the indictment.

But Mr. Biden had never been to Ukraine, let alone that hotel, prosecutors reported after investigating the allegations.

Mr. Smirnov is accused of exaggerating his “routine and unextraordinary business contacts with Burisma” into “bribery allegations” against the president, who is identified in the filing as “Public Official 1.”

He repeated some of his fabricated claims when he was interviewed by F.B.I. agents in September 2023, “changed his story as to other of his claims and promoted a new false narrative after he said he met with Russian officials,” according to the indictment.

The president’s son still faces indictments on a gun charge in Delaware and tax charges in California. But his lawyers said Mr. Smirnov’s indictment was proof that he was the target of a false and politically motivated smear campaign.


Pushed by Trump to try to find a way to implicate Joe Biden for something! anything! that Trump could use in his election efforts to claim Biden is just as corrupt as he is, James Comer and other House Republicans have been grasping at straws. That’s because Biden is clean. The indictment of Smirnov, the GOP’s TELL ALL star witness who is a fake and a liar, is just another example of the way Republicans have been running the House into the ground with their wild goose chases instead of passing legislation that helps Americans have better lives and supports our allies abroad.

At this point Speaker Mike Johnson seems to be unable to tie his own shoelaces without checking in with Donald Trump. He’s appeasing Trump’s every whim. For that reason, at least in part, the House of Representatives has devolved into totally dysfunctionality. Can’t pass legislation. Makes false claims. Embarrasses itself by impeaching a cabinet member, Mayorkas, for failing to harden the border WHILE Mayorkas is hammering out the toughest deal in recent history with a bipartisan Senate group THAT WOULD HARDEN THE BORDER and then REJECTS that legislation to appease Donald Trump. Fails to fund Ukraine, helping Putin gain ground in that war. Fails to fund Israel. Fails at pretty much everything. This dysfunctional House has only passed about 40 pieces of legislation into law, by far the least productive House in recent history. Many of the bills that did pass were pro forma- like giving Secret Service overtime pay or allowing Duck Stamps to be printed.

Americans need to vote these House Republicans out of office. It is mostly MAGA Republicans led by the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar and Matt Goetz who are mucking stuff up. They are the leftovers in the House. Moderate Republicans have been retiring because they are sick of the mess in the House and don’t want to be part of it or have to fight it all the time. When our elected representatives are this incapable of doing the job they were elected to do, they should be voted out. It’s time to bring in new and younger lawmakers who will get stuff done for Americans.