Center for Political Awareness

The Smirnov Affair: MAGA Republicans are Useful Idiots for Russian Intelligence

How GOP lawmakers got caught doing Moscow’s dirty work. (Click image for article.)

Image: Mother Jones illustration; Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/AP; Aaron Schwartz/ZUMA

 

In June 2020, a businessman and fixer named Alexander Smirnov, who was also an FBI informant, passed his handler at the bureau a potentially explosive tip: The owner of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, had told him that he had paid $5 million each to Joe Biden and his son Hunter so the elder Biden, then vice president, would stop an investigation into the firm. Last year, that allegation became a key component in the Republican effort to impeach the president. But according to federal prosecutors, it was all a lie. Nine days ago, Smirnov, an Israeli and American citizen who had worked with oligarchs over the years and had been a confidential FBI source for a decade, was indicted for making false statements to federal investigators.

Smirnov’s indictment is a big deal and blows up a huge chunk of the GOP’s impeachment drive. But, more important, his allegedly phony accusation did not occur in a vacuum. It is part of a larger story of the rotten relationship between Russian intelligence and the Trump cosmos.

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