Biden DOJ’s Indictment Of Burisma Bribery Source Raises More Questions Than Answers

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The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) indictment of a FBI informant who shared information about an alleged bribery scheme involving Hunter Biden, Joe Biden and a Ukrainian energy company called Burisma raises more questions than it answers.

Alexander Smirnov, the confidential human source (CHS) who alleged in 2020 that Burisma executives paid then-Vice President Joe Biden and Hunter Biden $5 million each to protect the company’s interests with their political influence, allegedly lied to FBI agents, according to the Thursday indictment unsealed by special counsel David Weiss and his team. Whether or not Smirnov lied to the FBI, as the DOJ alleges, the indictment’s timing and its allegations that Smirnov was not a credible CHS after all raise questions about how federal investigators have handled the information he provided.

The indictment asserts that Smirnov only made contact with Burisma executives in 2017, after Biden’s stint as vice president concluded and after the Ukrainian investigator probing Burisma had lost his job, according to its text. Provided this is the case, it would not have been possible for Smirnov to have discussed the Bidens with Burisma executives in 2015 and 2016, as he told the FBI he did in June 2020.

The FBI recorded the claims Smirnov made in 2020 in a FD-1023 form, which is a document that FBI agents put together to summarize information provided by a CHS. A FD-1023 form does not make judgment as to whether or not the information provided is accurate; it simply serves as a synopsis of an informant’s claims, according to the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI. (RELATED: ‘Absurd And Childish’: Dems Chastised Ex-Hunter Biden Associate During Closed-Door Interview)

Why did Weiss not conduct interviews until after Republican Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley released the FD-1023?

The FD-1023 only entered the public domain after whistleblowers gave it to Republican Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who then released it to the public on July 20, 2023. FBI agents did not conduct an interview with Smirnov’s handler for more than a month after that date, according to The Federalist.

The FBI also did not interview Smirnov about the FD-1023 until September 27, 2023, according to the indictment. Before whistleblowers leaked the FD-1023 to Grassley, Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz had accused the FBI of stonewalling efforts to obtain the file.

“The Justice Department and lots of folks on Capitol Hill ran wild with similarly explosive claims from ‘trusted’ FBI source Christopher Steele in 2016. So, the lack of curiosity about Smirnov’s claims, which stayed hidden and virtually ignored in the FBI’s files until whistleblowers alerted Congress, is quite a contrast,” Jason Foster, the founder of Empower Oversight and former chief investigative counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “If the FBI and the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s had been doing their jobs, Smirnov would have been re-interviewed and his claims scrutinized much earlier.”

Weiss was the U.S. attorney for Delaware before becoming special counsel. Former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania Scott Brady told the House Judiciary Committee in October 2023 that then-U.S. Attorney Weiss was aware of the nature of the allegations contained in the FD-1023 in 2020, several years before the DOJ offered Hunter Biden a “sweetheart” plea deal on tax and gun charges.

Brady told lawmakers during his October 2023 testimony that he believed the allegations contained in the FD-1023 to be credible enough to warrant further investigation, according to the transcribed interview.

“The recently-released transcript of former U.S. Attorney Scott Brady’s testimony to the House makes clear that U.S. Attorney Weiss was informed of the gravity of the allegations,” Tristan Leavitt, the president of Empower Oversight who also represents Shapley, told the DCNF. “It’s extremely concerning that Weiss’s office nevertheless failed to investigate the allegations until after the IRS whistleblowers had come forward and Senator Grassley released the 1023 that his office obtained from other whistleblowers. It begs the question of what Weiss know about the veracity of the claims before and after the Hunter Biden plea deal collapsed.”

Why weren’t the explosive claims in the FD-1023 investigated sooner?

The FBI was in possession of the FD-1023 alleging that Burisma put Hunter Biden to the firm’s board to “protect [Burisma], through his dad, from all kinds of problems” in June 2020, according to its text.

Given the incendiary nature of the claims made in the FD-1023, it is unclear why it took so long for the FBI or other federal investigators to get to the bottom of the underlying assertions and conclude that they may well be false. Additionally, provided the FBI or other investigators had doubts that Smirnov was telling the truth, it is also unclear why relevant bodies waited so long to independently verify or debunk his claims given that he effectively accused the former vice president and then-presidential candidate of taking bribes from foreign oligarchs to influence American policy in Ukraine.

How does the FBI determine whether a CHS is credible?

The FBI considered Smirnov to be a “highly credible” CHS for a number of years, according to Brady’s testimony. The FBI considered the information he provided to be so credible and valuable that the government granted Smirnov leeway to engage in other criminal activity in exchange for his services, according to The Federalist.

“There is a long history of the FBI mismanaging human sources, dating back to the Boston FBI scandal where handlers even turned a blind-eye to sources committing murder. The FBI secretly pays far too much taxpayer money to human sources with far too little oversight,” Foster told the DCNF. “Every time it goes wrong, the FBI writes some new rules and assures the public that it’s been fixed, but no one ever actually requires real independent scrutiny and accountability. So these problems will likely get worse, especially in high profile politically sensitive cases, without major reforms.”

What does the indictment mean for the wider investigation into Joe Biden?

Democrats moved quickly to tout the Weiss indictment and its allegations as proof that the congressional investigation into Joe Biden’s potential involvement in his son’s business affairs should cease. Joe Biden called the investigation into his conduct an “outrageous effort” that “should be dropped” during a Friday press conference.

“Special Counsel Weiss’s investigation is just the most recent to debunk the Ukraine-Burisma conspiracy theory at the heart of this fraudulent impeachment inquiry,” Democratic Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, a member of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, said in a Thursday evening statement. “It is an undeniable fact that Republicans’ allegations against President Biden have always been a tissue of lies built on conspiracy theories, and I formally call on Speaker [of the House Mike] Johnson, [House Oversight and Accountability Committee] Chairman [James] Comer and House Republicans to stop promoting this nonsense and end their doomed impeachment inquiry.”

Regardless of whether or not Weiss is correct to assert that Smirnov lied to the FBI, the investigation into Joe Biden and his son is predicated on far more circumstantial evidence than the FD-1023. Thursday’s indictment does not invalidate the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop, the testimonies of several of Hunter Biden’s former business associates, the web of shell companies and wire transfers that congressional investigators have uncovered or the extent of Joe Biden’s potential involvement in his son’s business dealings with interests from countries including China, Romania and Kazakhstan.

The DOJ did not respond to requests to provide comment from the department and on behalf of Weiss.

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