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Ex-FBI Informant Had Russian Contacts  02/21 06:19

   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 Russian intelligence-affiliated officials, 
prosecutors said Tuesday.

   LAS VEGAS (AP) -- 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 Russian 
intelligence-affiliated officials, prosecutors said Tuesday.

   Prosecutors revealed the alleged contact as they urged a judge in Las Vegas 
to keep Alexander Smirnov behind bars while he awaits trial. But U.S. 
Magistrate Judge Daniel Albregts allowed Smirnov to be released from custody on 
electronic GPS monitoring.

   He is accused of falsely telling his FBI handler that executives with the 
Ukrainian energy company Burisma paid Hunter and Joe Biden $5 million each 
around 2015 -- a claim that became central to the Republican impeachment 
inquiry in Congress.

   Smirnov, 43, hid his face and did not speak to reporters Tuesday night when 
he walked out of the courthouse with his lawyers and girlfriend at his side. He 
wore a GPS monitor on his left ankle and had changed into street clothes and 
out of the yellow jail garb he had worn in court.

   Defense attorney David Chesnoff said he looks forward to defending Smirnov 
at trial.

   According to prosecutors, Smirnov admitted in an interview after his arrest 
last week 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.

   The White House didn't immediately comment Tuesday.

   Prosecutors said Smirnov, who holds dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship, falsely 
reported to the FBI in June 2020 that executives associated with Burisma paid 
millions of dollars to Hunter and Joe Biden in 2015 or 2016.

   But Smirnov 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, according to prosecutors.

   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 played a major part in 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 Smirnov indictment came down last week, while Republicans 
distanced the inquiry from his 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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