UNITED STATES NEWS

Ex-FBI informant charged with lying about Bidens will appear in court as judge weighs his detention

Feb 25, 2024, 10:02 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former FBI informant charged with fabricating a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme involving President Joe Biden’s family is set to appear in a California federal court on Monday as a judge considers whether he must remain behind bars while he awaits trial.

Special counsel David Weiss’ office is pressing U.S. District Judge Otis Wright II to keep Alexander Smirnov in jail, arguing the man who claims to have ties to Russian intelligence is likely to flee the country.

A different judge last week released Smirnov from jail on electronic GPS monitoring, but Wright ordered the man to be re-arrested after prosecutors asked to reconsider Smirnov’s detention. Wright said in a written order that Smirnov’s lawyers’ efforts to free him was “likely to facilitate his absconding from the United States.”

In an emergency petition with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Smirnov’s lawyers said Wright did not have the authority to order Smirnov to be re-arrested. The defense also criticized what it described as “biased and prejudicial statements” from Wright insinuating that Smirnov’s lawyers were acting improperly by advocating for his release.

Smirnov is charged with falsely telling his FBI handler that executives from the Ukrainian energy company Burisma had paid President Biden and Hunter Biden $5 million each around 2015. The claim became central to the Republican impeachment inquiry of President Biden in Congress.

In urging the judge to keep Smirnov locked up, prosecutors said the man has reported to the FBI having contact with Russian intelligence-affiliated officials. Prosecutors wrote in court filings last week that Smirnov told investigators after his first arrest that officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved in passing a story to him about Hunter Biden.

Smirnov, who holds dual Israeli-U.S. citizenship, is charged by the same Justice Department special counsel who has separately filed gun and tax charges against Hunter Biden.

Smirnov has not entered a plea to the charges, but his lawyers have said they look forward to defending him at trial. Defense attorneys have said in pushing for his release that he has no criminal history and has strong ties to the United States, including a longtime significant other who lives in Las Vegas.

In his ruling last week releasing Smirnov on GPS monitoring, U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel Albregts in Las Vegas said he was concerned about his access to what prosecutors estimate is $6 million in funds, but noted that federal guidelines required him to fashion “the least restrictive conditions” ahead of his trial.

Smirnov had been an informant for more than a decade when he made the explosive allegations about the Bidens in June 2020, after “expressing bias” about Joe Biden as a presidential candidate, prosecutors said. Smirnov had only routine business dealings with Burisma starting in 2017, according to court documents. No evidence has emerged that Joe Biden acted corruptly or accepted bribes in his current role or previous office as vice president.

While his identity wasn’t publicly known before the indictment, 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. Republicans pursuing investigations of the Bidens demanded the FBI release the unredacted form documenting the unverified allegations, though they acknowledged they couldn’t confirm if they were true.

___

Richer reported from Boston.

United States News

A general view during rehearsals at the 2024 Republican National Convention at the Fiserv Forum, Su...

Associated Press

The Latest: RNC set to begin in the aftermath of Trump assassination attempt

The Republican National Convention kicks off this week, with delegates and officials descending on Wisconsin amid the tumult that follows a Saturday assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump as he prepares to become the GOP’s official nominee. The quadrennial event takes place not only as Trump leads a party in lockstep behind him, but […]

41 minutes ago

Work continues on the roof of Gaido's restaurant in preparation for opening for diners for the firs...

Associated Press

In beachy Galveston, locals buckle down without power after Beryl’s blow during peak tourist season

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — Vacuums sucked the water out of the seaside inn run by Nick Gaido’s family in Galveston since 1911 as power was still spotty nearly one week after a resurgent Hurricane Beryl swept into Texas. Blue tarp covered much of the torn off roof. Gaido scheduled cleanup shifts for the hotel and […]

7 hours ago

FILE - Balloons are hoisted to the ceiling in the Forum ahead of the 2024 Republican National Conve...

Associated Press

When does a presumptive nominee become a nominee? Here’s how Donald Trump will make it official

WASHINGTON (AP) — Monday 12:01 AM Nearly 2,500 delegates are gathering in Milwaukee this week for a roll call vote to select a the Republican presidential nominee, formally ending the presidential primary. It will be a moment lacking in suspense: Former President Donald Trump has already been the presumptive nominee for months, having clinched a […]

8 hours ago

Members of the Coalition to March on the RNC speak during a news conference ahead of the 2024 Repub...

Associated Press

GOP convention protests are on despite shooting at Trump rally

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Activists gathering in Milwaukee for the start of the Republican National Convention say the assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump won’t affect their long-standing plans to demonstrate outside the convention site this week. A diverse range of organizations and activists is expected outside the downtown Fiserv Forum. The largest expected demonstration […]

8 hours ago

FILE - Actor Clint Eastwood speaks to an empty chair while addressing delegates during the Republic...

Associated Press

Floor fights, boos and a too-long kiss. How the dramatic and the bizarre define convention history

WASHINGTON (AP) — In 1948, the Republican and Democratic parties did something unthinkable in today’s climate of ferocious political animosity: They not only held their national conventions in the same city, but shared some of the props. Both gathered in Philadelphia, largely because its Municipal Auditorium had already been fitted with the wiring needed for […]

8 hours ago

FILE - Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, ...

Associated Press

The RNC’s first day will still focus on the economy. Here’s what to know about Trump’s plans

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump goes into the Republican National Convention with bold promises about the U.S. economy, but he has sketched out notably few details about how his plans would actually work. The convention’s first day is still expected to focus on the economy even after Saturday’s shooting at a Trump rally in Pennsylvania […]

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Ex-FBI informant charged with lying about Bidens will appear in court as judge weighs his detention