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Alexander Smirnov is linked to intel connecting Trump to Russia


Published: 13:55 GMT, 1 March 2024 | Updated: 18:52 GMT, 1 March 2024

A federal informant charged with lying to the FBI may have contributed to the controversial Crossfire Hurricane probe of Donald Trump‘s links with Russia.

Alexander Smirnov, 43, is accused of fabricating a story he told the FBI about a $10 million bribe paid to Joe Biden and his son Hunter by a Ukrainian oligarch. He has pleaded not guilty.

As details emerge about the 10-year FBI informant, keen-eyed intelligence analysts have noted an intriguing similarity between Smirnov and an unnamed FBI source cited in a government report on Crossfire Hurricane, the Bureau’s past probe into the Trump 2016 presidential campaign’s links with Russian intelligence operatives.

The similarities raise the prospect that Smirnov may have been a source for both the investigation of potential corruption by the Biden family, and also a counterintelligence probe linked to Trump – making it all the more embarrassing for the FBI if he turns out to have been a fantasist, or worse, a Russian double agent, as is suggested by prosecutors.

Alexander Smirnoff has never been publicly photographed without his face covered. A court artist’s sketch shows his close-cut salt and pepper hair, thick beard and glasses

A report on a counterintelligence probe linked to Donald Trump suggests that Smirnov may also have been a source for the investigation

Smirnov pleaded not guilty to fabricating a $10M bribery scheme involving Joe and Hunter Biden in a LA federal court Monday

Former Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz told that Congress and the Justice Department Inspector General should probe Smirnov’s potential links to Crossfire Hurricane – and find out why his bribery claims were left uninvestigated for three years.

‘The timing of all this is highly suspicious. For years the Department of Justice doesn’t do anything, then all of a sudden they arrest him. It begs the question, what other cases did he weigh in on?’ said the ex-GOP House member, now a fellow at transparency think tank the Government Accountability Institute.

Smirnov made his claims about meeting Burisma owner Mykola Zlochevsky in 2016

‘I think Congress should be diving into it, as well as the Inspector General.’

Smirnov, a longtime, paid informant, passed on intelligence to his handler in March 2017 about allegedly corrupt Ukraine gas company Burisma, and mentioned Hunter Biden’s job on the firm’s board.

In 2020, then-Pennsylvania US Attorney Scott Brady was investigating claims of a foreign influence scheme involving the Bidens. He spotted the handler’s 2017 report mentioning Hunter, and asked for Smirnov to be re-interviewed.

It was then that Smirnov made his claims about meeting Burisma owner Mykola Zlochevsky in 2016, saying that Zlochevsky bragged about bribing the Bidens to shut down a criminal probe into his company.

A report by the Department of Justice Inspector General about Crossfire Hurricane also describes a March 2017 interview with a longtime FBI informant, discussing issues related to Ukraine and foreign influence campaigns.

The informant is unnamed in the report, and has been unable to confirm whether it is Smirnov.

But the report, published in December 2019, said that the anonymous informant ‘regularly provides ‘a ton of information on all sorts of things’ to the FBI’ – as did Smirnov.

This included information given in March 2017, the same month as Smirnov’s meeting with his Seattle-based FBI handler, according to Bureau documents released by Congress.

That informant’s information was ‘provided to the Crossfire Hurricane team for review’, the DoJ IG report said.

Smirnov left a as Vegas courtroom last week flanked by his cousin Linor Shefer, 38, and his girlfriend’s son Nikolay Lavrenyuk, 39. All three tried to hide their faces from cameras

Crossfire Hurricane investigators had been monitoring Trump campaign officials’ alleged links with Russian intelligence operatives and corrupt dealings in Ukraine, a topic on which Smirnov is likely to have been able to provide intelligence.

Prosecutors say Smirnov had ‘high-level contacts with Russian intelligence operatives’ – including the chief of a Kremlin assassination squad. His attorneys say these contacts had all been cultivated at the US government’s request.

Seamus Bruner, vice president of research at the Government Accountability Institute, told ‘The Smirnov fiasco adds to mounting proof that the FBI has been played by Moscow-linked individuals multiple times in recent years.

‘The FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation tried and failed to prove Trump colluded with Russia. Instead it proved that the FBI was easily duped by Moscow-linked operatives, apparently on multiple occasions.’

The Inspector General’s 2019 report was reviewing whether Crossfire Hurricane agents’ warrants to wiretap political staffers such as Carter Page were improperly obtained.

Though heavily redacted, the report appears to say the FBI handler got documents from the unnamed informant and passed them to a ‘Crossfire Hurricane Intelligence Analyst’.

However, the analyst told their team that there was not ‘anything significant’ in the information provided.

This unnamed informant was described as ‘a Trump supporter’ with ‘some political meanderings’.

Smirnov has also been accused by prosecutors of having a bias against Biden and towards Trump, which they claim skewed his reports.

The IG’s report added that FBI top brass were unaware of the informant before the 2016 presidential election.

The IG’s report said that FBI top brass were unaware of the informant before the 2016 presidential election, including then-senior FBI agent Peter Strzok, then-FBI Counterintelligence Division assistant director Edward Priestap and then-FBI director James Comey

Smirnov is facing up to 25 years behind bars for posing as an informant and feeding officials an allegedly false story about the president and his son in 2020 

‘No one involved with the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, including [then-senior FBI agent Peter] Strzok, [then-FBI Counterintelligence Division assistant director Edward] Priestap and [then-FBI director James] Comey, knew about this CHS [confidential human source] during the campaign,’ the DoJ IG wrote.

‘Priestap told the OIG he ‘did not know it was happening,’ and that, as the AD of the Counterintelligence Division, he ‘absolutely’ should have been told that there was an active FBI CHS with access to [redacted].’

Former top prosecutor Brady told Congress in October that Smirnov – whose identity was still secret back then – had been ‘used in multiple investigative matters, including during the Obama administration’, a timeline that would overlap with the Crossfire probe.

‘The FBI has said that they had a pre-existing relationship with this source, as well as they had been used in multiple investigative matters, including during the Obama administration. Are you aware of those public statements from the FBI?’ congressional investigators asked Brady in his October 23 interview with the House Judiciary Committee.

‘I’m not aware of those, but that’s consistent with my understanding,’ he replied.

‘The FBI has also said that they’ve reviewed information that [Smirnov] has provided and found them to be, quote, highly credible. Have you seen those public statements?’ the investigator asked.

‘I have not, but that’s consistent with my understanding,’ Brady replied.

Former top prosecutor Scott Brady told Congress in October that Smirnov – whose identity was still secret back then – had been ‘used in multiple investigative matters, including during the Obama administration’, a timeline that would overlap with the Crossfire probe

Kashyap Patel, a former National Security Council official and top aide to the House Intelligence Committee in 2017 and 2018, told that it would not surprise him if taxpayer money had been wasted on an untruthful informant – citing Christopher Steele, a key informant for Crossfire whose information was later debunked.

‘The FBI has been using its source network for corruption cover-up for years, using taxpayer dollars,’ he said.

‘Christopher Steel and Smirnov were both called the best-trusted assets in FBI history by [Bureau directors] Comey and Wray, respectively. And now they both appear to be criminals.

‘I think there needs to be an entire overhaul of how they use sources, and these are just more examples of it.’

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