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SAUNDERS: Smirnov: From trusted informant since 2010 to accused liar in 2024

Updated February 23, 2024 - 5:16 pm

WASHINGTON — In case any of the characters drawn to Hunter Biden — back in the years when now-President Joe Biden’s son was trolling for dollars by dangling access to his father — missed the warning federal law enforcement delivered this month, the DOJ sent it twice.

On Feb. 14, the FBI arrested Alexander Smirnov at Harry Reid International Airport on two charges of making false statements about the Bidens, whom he accused in June 2020 of taking $5 million each in bribes from a Ukrainian oligarch. On Tuesday, a federal judge in Las Vegas ordered Smirnov released.

Then Special Counsel David Weiss had Smirnov, who had served as a confidential human informant for the government since 2010, arrested again — this time in his Las Vegas attorneys’ office on Thursday.

When you think about all the violent criminals who are loose in America today — many of them migrants who illegally crossed the Southwest border — it’s breathtaking to consider the federal manpower deployed to lock up Smirnov, who isn’t exactly Public Enemy No. 1 (unless you’re a Biden).

According to Weiss, Smirnov, a 43-year-old who has lived in Las Vegas for about two years, is a bald schemer who spread Russian misinformation. Smirnov told the government he only had $1,500 in cash on hand and $5,000 in a checking account when, according to the indictment, he had access to more than $2.9 million and “his wife/girlfriend (he refers to her both ways)” has access to $3.8 million. “The fact that Smirnov misrepresented his assets alone should cause Smirnov to be detained because it shows that, at the first opportunity, he did not provide true and completed information to Pretrial Services,” Weiss argued.

That the FBI would rely on informants who have a transactional relationship with the truth tells you everything about the country’s premier law enforcement agency. The institutional culture is corrupt. According to Weiss, the bureau has used Smirnov as an informant repeatedly since 2010. Now the government says he’s a fabulist.

It always amazes me when the FBI indignantly calls out one of its longtime snitches for withholding information that should have been unearthed during a due-diligence background check. Watch TV and you believe that the FBI is run by smart, competent professionals who want nothing more than to get the bad guys. Read charges against a source who, until recently, gave the FBI what it wanted, and that all melts away.

Because the feds soured on a long-time source, you can expect an unknown number of federal inmates to be freed because they were convicted on the word of an informant whom the FBI no longer trusts. That’s great for the wobblers, but lousy when it helps serious offenders whom law enforcement could have prosecuted successfully with a little more sweat equity and a little less arrogance.

Pushing to keep Smirnov behind bars is Hunter Biden himself, who is awaiting trial on two charges of making false statements on a federal firearms form, as well as nine federal tax charges. He has pleaded not guilty.

The president’s son wants to avoid jail time — and who can blame him — yet Biden’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, filed a brief that urged the government to keep Smirnov locked up pending his trial. Smirnov, after his brief release following his first arrest, remains detained pending a Monday hearing in federal court in Los Angeles.

For someone who admittedly violated the Draconian federal drug laws his father championed, Hunter Biden sure can play hardball.

Contact Review-Journal Washington columnist Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com. Follow @debrajsaunders on X.

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