Ex-FBI informant Alexander Smirnov, accused of lying about Bidens, remanded to custody after pleading not guilty

Smirnov is charged with lying to the FBI about President Biden and his son.

February 26, 2024, 3:28 PM

Alexander Smirnov, the former FBI informant charged with lying to the bureau about President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, was remanded to custody Monday, pending trial.

Appearing in court Monday, Smirnov said very little except answering "yes" when asked if he understood the case against him. He entered a plea of not guilty to the counts against him.

Smirnov was arrested earlier this month on charges that he concocted "fabrications" about the president and his son accepting $5 million in bribes from the Ukrainian energy giant Burisma -- which Republicans have repeatedly cited as a driving force in their efforts to impeach the president.

After being released by the court following his arrest, he was then rearrested last week and held in custody.

U.S. District Judge Otis Wright had ordered Smirnov to appear in court Monday as the judge considered keeping Smirnov detained. Special counsel David Weiss had asked the judge for Smirnov to be held until his trial date.

His attorneys made a plea Monday for his release, arguing that he has never committed a crime, that he worked for the U.S. government, and that he has never been accused of lying before.

Justice Department officials argued that he is a major flight risk.

Hunter Biden in Rayburn Building on Jan. 10, 2024.
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images, FILE

The judge agreed with the DOJ.

"There is nothing garden variety about this case," he said, ordering Smirnov held until trial.

In a filing last week, Weiss' office alleged Smirnov had high-level contacts with Russian intelligence officials who they said were "involved in passing a story" to him about Hunter Biden.

"Smirnov's efforts to spread misinformation about a candidate of one of the two major parties in the United States continues," the filing stated. "What this shows is that the misinformation he is spreading is not confined to 2020. He is actively peddling new lies that could impact U.S. elections after meeting with Russian intelligence officials in November."

Last July, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, took the unusual step of releasing the confidential FBI informant's unverified claim that, years ago, the Biden family "pushed" a Ukrainian oligarch to pay them $10 million.

The claim -- which Democrats and the White House immediately denied -- has since been cited by congressional Republicans in part to justify their impeachment inquiry into the president.