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Special Counsel Indictment Looks Just As Bad For David Weiss As The Charged FBI Informant

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No one in Weiss’s office investigated Smirnov’s serious claims against Hunter and Joe Biden until after Grassley released a copy of the FD-1023 on July 20, 2023.

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On Thursday, Special Counsel David Weiss unsealed an indictment charging a longtime confidential human source (CHS) with making false statements. But it wasn’t Christopher Steele, the CHS who threw the country into turmoil for four years by peddling the fraudulent Steele dossier. Former CHS Stefan Halper, who helped further the Russia-collusion hoax, also wasn’t the subject of the indictment. Nor was CHS Rodney Joffe, who sought to destroy the Trump presidency with the Alfa Bank hoax.

No, it was the CHS who, on June 26, 2020, told his handler that the owner of Burisma claimed he had paid Hunter and Joe Biden each $5 million in bribes in exchange for protection from being investigated by the Ukrainian prosecutor.

Thursday’s indictment revealed the name of that CHS for the first time — Alexander Smirnov — and alleged that Smirnov’s aforementioned statements, which were memorialized in an FD-1023 report, were false. 

False Statements Allegations

Since news first broke of the existence of that FD-1023 last summer, House Republicans championed the CHS’s reporting as further evidence of Biden family corruption, while Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley focused on the Department of Justice’s apparent failure to investigate the veracity of the FD-1023 as part of their probe into Hunter Biden’s business affairs.

Weiss’s indictment presents a powerful case that Smirnov lied on June 26, 2020, when the CHS told his handler he’d had conversations with Burisma executives in 2015 and 2016: An investigation by Weiss’s team concluded Smirnov did not meet the Burisma executives until March 1, 2017, meaning the earlier conversations could not have occurred. The indictment references introductory emails that established the alleged accurate timing of events, as well as travel records of other individuals, which contradict Smirnov’s claims. That evidence, the special counsel’s office concluded, was sufficient to charge Smirnov with making false statements and creating a false record.

If Smirnov lied to his handler in June 2020 about his conversations with Burisma executives, the indictment is well deserved. Not only did Smirnov’s alleged lies violate the federal criminal statute that prohibits false statements, but they also proved especially damaging to society as a whole by interfering in the House’s impeachment inquiry. 

The harm here is not merely that investigators wasted time chasing apparently false leads, or that Hunter and Joe Biden suffered from Smirnov’s allegedly false accusations, but also that Smirnov’s lies may overshadow the other unrelated — and substantial — evidence implicating the Bidens in a pay-to-play scandal, rendering it more difficult to obtain justice.

What About Other CHS Lies?

Smirnov, however, is but one CHS whose alleged lies have created havoc for our country. 

Consider the lies peddled in the Steele dossier to our FBI. CHS Christopher Steele represented his sourcing as trusted, reliable, and well-placed when it was none of those things. That dossier led to the DOJ obtaining four unconstitutional surveillance warrants against an innocent American, resulted in our government spending millions investigating a hoax, and impaired the functioning of the Trump administration. Yet even after Grassley and Sen. Lindsey Graham referred the matter to the Department of Justice for a criminal investigation, Steele reaped no consequences for the lies he sowed. 

Then there was CHS Stefan Halper who, according to an electronic communication, told the FBI the Russian-born Svetlana Lokhova had “latched” onto Michael Flynn at a Cambridge academic gathering and then, after the dinner, “surprised everyone and got into [Flynn’s] cab and joined [Flynn] on the train ride to London.” Halper, however, never attended the dinner, so he could not have witnessed any of the happenings, and the supposed cab ride was completely fictional. 

The FBI’s summary of his debriefing also memorialized Halper claiming Trump volunteer Carter Page asked Halper during a July 18, 2016, meeting whether he “would want to join the Trump campaign as a foreign policy adviser.” In an exclusive interview with The Federalist in 2020, however, Page, “unequivocally denied asking Halper ‘to be a foreign policy advisor for the Trump campaign.’” 

Add to those two sources Rodney Joffe, the CHS who helped concoct the Alfa Bank hoax. That fairytale went that the Trump organization had a secret communication channel with Putin operating through the Russian-based Alfa Bank. Joffe peddled that tale to the FBI and, with the help of former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, pushed the CIA to investigate this second Russia hoax just as the Trump presidency was beginning. 

As I wrote in 2022: “Justice Won’t Be Served In SpyGate Without John Durham Investigating More Confidential Human Sources.” But alas, Durham’s investigation ended without any reckoning for Steele, Halper, or Joffe. 

Weiss Must Go

While the double standard is infuriating, assuming the allegations against Smirnov are true, charges are eminently justified. 

Also justified? Impeaching David Weiss.

Thursday’s indictment established that no one in U.S. Attorney Weiss’s office investigated Smirnov’s serious claims against Hunter and Joe Biden until after Grassley released a copy of the FD-1023 on July 20, 2023. It would be over a month later before FBI investigators would speak with Smirnov’s handler about the FD-1023. And, according to the indictment, it was not until Sept. 27, 2023, that the FBI interviewed Smirnov.

That timeline confirms the incompetence of Weiss in handling the investigation into Hunter Biden because in October 2020, Weiss’s Delaware office received “a substantive briefing” concerning the FD-1023 from the Pittsburgh U.S. attorney’s office. 

In the run-up to the 2020 election, then-Attorney General William Barr tasked then-Pittsburgh U.S. Attorney Scott Brady with screening evidence related to Ukraine. Last year, Brady testified before the House Judiciary Committee about that screening process, including how his team handled the FD-1023.

Brady explained the Pittsburgh FBI office sought to corroborate anything they could from the FD-1023, but he noted that his office lacked the authority to use a grand jury for the screening process. Brady’s team nonetheless succeeded in obtaining travel records of the CHS and “interfaced with the CHS’s handler about certain statements relating to travel and meetings to see if they were consistent with his or her understanding.” 

What they were able to identify, Brady testified, was consistent with the CHS’s representations in the FD-1023. Additionally, the CHS was a longtime source for the FBI and considered “highly reliable” — something the indictment confirms given his length of service and the government authorizing Smirnov to commit crimes while operating as a CHS. 

Brady further testified that his office had vetted the FD-1023 and the CHS “against known sources of Russian disinformation.” To conduct that analysis, his team worked with the Eastern District of New York. “It was found that it was not sourced from Russian disinformation,” Brady told the House Judiciary Committee.

Then when his team finished screening the FD-1023 and other evidence related to Ukraine, a Pittsburgh assistant U.S. attorney briefed Weiss’s office on the evidence, explaining how they had screened it, and noting they concluded it had “some indicia of credibility” and should be investigated further.

Thursday’s indictment of Smirnov suggests the Delaware U.S. attorney’s office sat on the FD-1023 for nearly three years, until after Grassley released a copy to the public. Instead, Weiss’s office offered Hunter Biden a sweetheart plea agreement, which fell apart only because the federal judge assigned to the case inquired into the strange arrangement that appeared to give Hunter Biden blanket immunity in a pretrial diversion agreement — something she had never seen before.

Special Counsel Weiss clearly knows how bad this looks because, in the indictment, he tried to spin the assessment into the FD-1023 as being closed out by the Pittsburgh FBI office, implying that is why his office did not conduct any further investigative steps. 

“By August 2020, FBI Pittsburgh concluded that all reasonable steps had been completed regarding the Defendant’s allegations and that their assessment, 58A-PG-3250958, should be closed,” Weiss wrote. “On August 12, 2020, FBI Pittsburgh was informed that the then-FBI Deputy Director and then-Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States concurred that it should be closed.”

However, as former Attorney General Barr has made clear numerous times, the Pittsburgh office was merely charged with screening the evidence, and the investigation into the FD-1023 “wasn’t closed down.”

“On the contrary,” Barr stressed, “it was sent to Delaware for further investigation.”

No further investigation occurred, however. That alone should justify Weiss’s removal — and not merely for what he failed to do, but also because the country can’t trust that his special counsel team will follow all the leads, including the ones we don’t know about. 


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