Hunter Biden says special counsel used Alexander Smirnov’s discredited bribery claims to derail his plea deal

Holmes Lybrand, CNN | 2/20/2024, 8:10 p.m.
Hunter Biden’s lawyers accused special counsel David Weiss on Tuesday of using a since-discredited bribery allegation from an FBI informant …
Alexander Smirnov (in the middle) is leaving court in Las Vegas. Mandatory Credit: CNN

Hunter Biden’s lawyers accused special counsel David Weiss on Tuesday of using a since-discredited bribery allegation from an FBI informant to blow up his plea deal last year.

In a court filing Tuesday, attorneys for the president’s son asked a judge to force Weiss’ team to turn over additional information about the plea deal that went awry, and to provide materials about their discussions regarding a tip from by Alexander Smirnov, a 43-year-old former informant who was indicted for lying to the FBI about the Bidens’ alleged business dealings.

Smirnov appeared in a Nevada federal court Tuesday afternoon, where a judge ruled that he be released while he awaits trial. The release was granted with several conditions, including that Smirnov be subject to GPS monitoring and surrender his passports.

Weiss’ team wrote last week in Smirnov’s indictment that he falsely told his FBI handler in 2020 that President Joe Biden and his son each took $5 million in bribes from the Ukrainian energy company Burisma. The FBI investigated Smirnov’s allegations at the time, his indictment says, and recommended the probe into his claims be closed in August of that year.

Prosecutors continued their investigation of Smirnov’s claims into 2023, the indictment says.

“The discussion about the scope of the immunity agreement appears shaped by the prosecution’s investigation of the Smirnov allegations, which it began looking into just days before the July 26, 2023 hearing,” Hunter Biden’s lawyers alleged in their filing, referring to their client’s botched plea deal.

“It now seems clear that the Smirnov allegations infected this case,” they wrote, adding that prosecutors followed Smirnov down a “rabbit hole of lies” and “having taken Mr. Smirnov’s bait of grand, sensational charges, the Diversion Agreement that had just been entered into and Plea Agreement that was on the verge of being finalized suddenly became inconvenient for the prosecution, and it reversed course and repudiated those Agreements.”

Weiss was appointed special counsel several weeks after the July 26 plea hearing.

House Republicans have championed Smirnov’s uncorroborated bribery claims against the Bidens and used his tips to fuel their impeachment inquiry into the president.

During the plea hearing that fell apart in Delaware last summer, both sides tussled over the breadth of the immunity provisions, which only covered gun and tax matters. Prosecutors were asked directly if the Justice Department could still bring charges against Hunter Biden under the Foreign Agents Registration Act despite the deal.

“Yes,” lead prosecutor Leo Wise told the judge.

Hunter Biden’s attorney, Christopher Clark, said he disagreed with the prosecutor’s assertion.

“Then there is no deal,” Wise responded.

Despite efforts to amend the deal during the July hearing, the judge did not accept the agreement.

Weiss’ special counsel office indicted Hunter Biden in September on three charges related to an illegal purchase and possession of a gun while addicted to drugs. Weiss also indicted Hunter Biden in December on nine tax-related charges over an alleged scheme to not pay $1.4 million in taxes he owed from 2016 to 2019. He has pleaded not guilty in both cases.

Tuesday’s filing from Hunter Biden’s attorney also accused prosecutors of failing to abide by their obligation to turn over discovery in the Delaware case, including over allegations that Hunter Biden’s alleged gun bag had cocaine on it.