Washington — Federal prosecutors in a court hearing on Monday in Los Angeles will once again try to make the case that an ex-FBI informant who is accused of lying to investigators about President Biden and his son Hunter’s business dealings should be detained pending trial. 

Alexander Smirnov was charged with two counts that amounted to allegedly making up fake stories about the Bidens — namely that they were each paid $5 million by a Ukrainian energy company — and passing that false information along to his FBI handlers for further investigation in 2020.  Special counsel David Weiss — the Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney for Delaware named special counsel by Attorney General Merrick Garland to continue his investigation into Hunter Biden — sought the indictment against him earlier this month. 

Last week, Smirnov, 43, was briefly released from federal custody after a magistrate judge in Las Vegas said that certain conditions would permit his secure pretrial freedom despite his alleged ties to foreign intelligence services that made him a flight risk. But on Thursday, Smirnov was taken back into federal custody and ordered to appear before the federal judge in Los Angeles who will oversee his case following a request from prosecutors to reconsider the release order.

President Biden Arrives Back At The White House From Delaware
Hunter Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, arrives at the White House December 19, 2023 in Washington, DC. 

Drew Angerer / Getty Images


“The government..sought reconsideration or re-examination by this Court of the Nevada release order,” wrote federal Judge Otis Wright on Thursday. “That motion for reconsideration has been granted and this Court issued an arrest warrant.” 

Smirnov’s lawyers have opposed his detention and wrote last week that his personal relationships in the U.S. mitigated his risk of fleeing the country and his lack of criminal history supported his release. 

“When he was arrested for a second time, Mr. Smirnov was already free and working on his defense in his lawyers’ office,” his legal team wrote, “This is hardly what would be expected of a person preparing to jump bail and flee the country; to the contrary, had he not been rearrested, Mr. Smirnov would have voluntarily traveled to Los Angeles with his lawyers to attend the upcoming hearing.” 

In seeking Smirnov’s detention, the special counsel’s team revealed that after his arrest,  the defendant claimed that individuals “associated with Russian intelligence” were tied to efforts to peddle a story about Hunter Biden. 

“He is actively peddling new lies that could impact U.S. elections after meeting with Russian intelligence officials in November,” prosecutors wrote last week, without revealing which claim about Hunter Biden apparently stemmed from Russia. 

“Law enforcement knows about Smirnov’s contact with officials affiliated with Russian intelligence because Smirnov himself reported on a number of those contacts to his FBI Handler,” the special counsel’s team alleged. “These contacts are extensive and extremely recent, and Smirnov had the intention of meeting with one of these officials on his upcoming planned overseas travel.”

But it was not just Russia. Investigators alleged that the man charged with lying to them also claimed to have had contacts with other foreign intelligence services that all posed a risk if he had been granted pretrial release. 

Prosecutors did not say whether Smirnov’s claims about the alleged ties to Russian intelligence have ever been substantiated and wrote that while he was used as an informant for many years, Smirnov was ultimately deemed unreliable and indicted.  

The alleged fake stories that Smirnov has been charged with providing to his FBI handlers were memorialized in a federal document that became a flashpoint for Republican Congressional leaders as they pushed ahead in their investigation of the first family’s business dealings. They pointed to the document’s allegations of bribery as evidence of misdeeds, but the charges against Smirnov blunted those claims as the ex-informant is accused of “transform[ing] his routine and unextraordinary business contacts with Burisma in 2017 and later into bribery allegations against” Hunter and Mr. Biden. 

On Monday, federal prosecutors are set to urge Wright to keep Smirov behind bars based on the risks posed by the foreign intelligence contacts he once claimed he maintained. Wright wrote in his order detaining Smirnov that defense attorneys were working to “arrange the release of Defendant Smirnov, likely to facilitate his absconding from the United States. “

Smirnov’s legal team pushed back, writing that the judge’s assertions were “wrong.” 

The defendant has yet to enter a plea in the case. 

His claims are not cited in either of Weiss’ two indictments against the president’s son, charging him with gun crimes and failure to pay taxes in federal courts in Delaware and California. Hunter Biden’s legal team nevertheless referenced Smirnov’s relationship with the FBI in a court filing last week in an effort to bolster their case. 

Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty to all counts against him and has filed numerous motions to dismiss both indictments.  

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