May 20, 2024 / by 

 

Happy Delaware Laptop Day, for Those Who Celebrate

If I read the docket correctly, in a courtroom in Delaware today, Judge Robert Robinson will hear John Paul Mac Isaac’s motion to dismiss and Hunter Biden’s motion for summary judgement in the suit and countersuit over whether JPMI was legally entitled to first snoop through and then start disseminating data from a laptop JPMI claims to believe was dropped off by Hunter Biden, and whether a single statement Hunter Biden made about possibly being hacked that didn’t even name JPMI could be considered defamation.

Because CNN and Politico will also be arguing their motions to dismiss against the blind computer repairman in a follow-on to the same hearing, we might get some press coverage of the hearing. If not, it’s possible that a hearing that has the possibility of roiling 40 months of relentless Murdoch propaganda and both criminal cases against Hunter Biden will go uncovered.

No dick pic sniffer can control their glee that Hunter Biden has a deposition before Congress next week; they don’t seem to give a shit — or, even know — that a hearing that may determine the legal status of the laptop is happening today.

To mark the day, I wanted to return to a few details from Hunter Biden’s reply motion to compel from the other day.

First, on pages 3-4 in the section rebuking David Weiss for calling Keith Ablow’s photo of a photo of a table saw and sawdust a picture of Hunter Biden’s cocaine, the filing includes the text exchange explaining the photo.

2 The message excerpt on the following page is found on the data image provided to Mr. Biden by the prosecution (iPhoneXS_Chat_00000132). There is no Bates stamp for this material as discussed in Mr. Biden’s opening motion. (See Mot. at 18.)

The text appears to come from the iPhone XS that Gus Dimitrelos described as being encrypted on the device, along with a handy password stored right there on the laptop. Readers who have been following my voyage down the Hunter Biden rabbit hole will remember it all started when I read Gary Shapley’s notes indicating that the FBI, too, used a password discovered on the laptop to access the phone.

Laptop — iphone messages were on the hard drive but encrypted they didn’t get those messages until they looked at laptop and found a business card with the password on it so they were able to get into the iphone messages [my emphasis]

I opined at the time that, while the FBI might get away with accessing this encrypted device without a separate warrant, anyone else who accessed it — as Garrett Ziegler keeps confessing he did — may have committed a CFAA violation. Curiously, though, the FBI did get separate warrants for all the other devices backed up separately. That’s what the July 10, 2020 warrant did: permit the FBI to access four device backups that were already in hand, but that were separate backups.

Not this phone, though, the phone on which the photo of the photo of the table saw and sawdust that David Weiss claimed was cocaine might be found.

So on pages 3-4, Abbe Lowell explained that one place you might find Keith Ablow’s photo of the photo of the table saw and sawdust that Weiss misstook for cocaine was on a phone that was encrypted when the FBI first got the laptop.

Starting 16 pages later, Lowell returned to his request that prosecutors actually describe where they found particular pieces of evidence. Lowell explained that, yes, while it is true that last August he asked for an exact copy of the laptop, which “will be needed, for example, to challenge the chain of custody, provenance, or likely tampering with the data before it came into the possession of the government,” he also expected that prosecutors would provide some roadmap for where they’ve found things.

The prosecution mixes apples with oranges in charging that Mr. Biden is being “dishonest and misleading” in objecting to what the prosecution contends was a laptop it obtained being produced in the native format that he requested (Opp. at 19), but that is disingenuous. To be sure, Mr. Biden asked for an exact copy of the laptop so it could be examined in the same way in which it was originally found, which is helpful in making a forensic examination of the laptop. That will be needed, for example, to challenge the chain of custody, provenance, or likely tampering with the data before it came into the possession of the government.

However, this motion seeks something more—something traditionally provided in discovery. The crux of Mr. Biden’s complaint here is that the prosecution has not supplemented that production with an index or some other means that would identify which of the vast materials on the laptop the prosecution believes are relevant to this case. The request for the forensic copy is not the same. If the prosecution is claiming that it has not indexed the 220 gigabytes of data (which would be an odd statement), then it needsto say that, and, as with other requests, the dispute will end. If it does have what it normally has with vast amounts of e-data, without providing more, the defense is in a needle in a haystack situation.

Then he noted that the labels Derek Hines used for where investigators found things weren’t all that helpful, because those “titles [] are not even remotely descriptive of what they contain.”

This amount of mixed media data in this tech age is difficult to navigate. The text messages and photos cited by the prosecution in its motions, for example, are difficult to locate. They are “buried” in a convoluted collection of different backup folders and files and are not stored in one streamlined digital backup or application. The messages and photos cited come from “Apple iCloud Backup 01”; “Apple iTunes Backup”; “Apple iCloud Backup 04”; and “iTunes Backup (iPhone 11),” titles that are not even remotely descriptive of what they contain. (See DE 86-1.) For this reason, Mr. Biden requested an index of material (which the prosecution has now clarified it does not have), or Bates stamps for that which it had cited. (Opp. at 19.)

And not just what they contain, I’d add. The label, “iTunes Backup (iPhone 11),” which is where Hines described finding the photo of a photo of a table saw and sawdust almost certainly couldn’t be what Hines described it as — an iPhone 11 — because (as zscoreUSA noted) Apple didn’t announce the iPhone 11 until September 10, 2019, after the laptop was dropped off at JPMI’s shop and after a warrant was served on Apple.

I asked David Weiss’ spox about this, but it was another of a growing stack of questions of mine to which he didn’t even bother responding.

And Abbe Lowell — curse you! — isn’t much more help. Given his response that prosecutors have now fulfilled his request for guidance on where they found things, he must know whether iTunes Backup (iPhone 11) is that iPhone XS that was encrypted on the hard drive, but he’s not telling either.

In his opening motion, Mr. Biden merely requested, following the prosecution’s citation to myriad text messages and photos in its responses, that the prosecution indicate where on the image it provided Mr. Biden could find those referenced materials. (Mot. at 18.) The reason for this request was straightforward at the time: defense counsel could not locate certain of the messages and photos given the broad date ranges used by the prosecution to describe them (e.g., photos taken “Prior to October 12, 2018”; messages sent “prior to his gun purchase”; and photos taken “During November and December 2018”). (DE 86-1.) Mr. Biden appreciates that with the Exhibit filed with its opposition, the prosecution has now fulfilled this part of his request.

But Abbe Lowell did say this: at a meeting in August of last year, the first time when Lowell asked for a complete copy of the laptop (he had to ask again a month later), prosecutors told him that they had “independent sources” for everything helpful to their case.

As to the meeting between Mr. Biden’s counsel and prosecutors in Wilmington on August 29, 2023 (Opp. at 19), Mr. Biden notes that prosecutors indicated, during that meeting, that they possess “independent sources” for any material on the laptop device that would be helpful to the prosecution’s case, presumably referring to material subpoenaed from third parties, such as Apple, Inc. or various cellphone carriers. For this reason, it was curious to Mr. Biden’s counsel when reviewing the prosecution’s response that it elected to cite to and quote from messages and photos contained on the device it possessed (lacking any Bates stamps) rather than from those “independent sources” included in the discovery produced to the defense. That is precisely why Mr. Biden requested the prosecution indicate where on the device he could find the quoted messages and referenced photos, and why he suggested these files were “left buried” among a set of voluminous files that, as made clear now, span multiple iPhone, iTunes, and iCloud backups. (Opp. at 19 (quoting Mot. at 17).) Nevertheless, Mr. Biden appreciates the prosecution providing the folder locations of the messages and photos it referenced. [my emphasis]

Remember: when they said that on August 29, 2023, they still had never obtained a warrant to search the laptop, or any of Hunter’s Apple content, for that matter, for evidence to support the gun crime. They also had not, and still have not, indexed the laptop so they know what is on there and how it got there.

And prosecutors are still saying that everything they need is available on Hunter’s iCloud account. Sort of. In the passage of the response where Hines raised this August 2023 request, he insisted that, “the primary source of evidence in this case is the evidence obtained from the defendant’s Apple iCloud account, which was produced to the defendant in a readily searchable format.”

No. No it is not. Here’s my updated table of what Hines included in his exhibit, updated so that the photo of a photo of a table saw and sawdust appears where it temporally belongs, showing that an iPhone XS received a text from Keith Ablow on November 20, 2018, the same day that some anomalous activity was happening with Hunter’s droidhunter account and in a period when an iPad attributed to Hunter was otherwise sending (but with just one exception, not necessarily delivering) a whole bunch of texts about being an addict. I’ve highlighted the records that don’t include hex numbers and aren’t obviously sourced to one of the iCloud backups for dramatic effect. Lowell’s comment seems to confirm that Derek Hines sourced the highlighted records to the laptop.

In addition to the sawdust photo and one of a box that, a new commenter noted is also not from Hunter, it is from Hallie, and even if it indicates drug use, it is much earlier drug use, the most important texts to the government’s case, the ones between Hunter and Hallie while he possessed the gun, appear to be sourced to the laptop.

So in August, at a point when prosecutors had never gotten legal permission to search the laptop for evidence of gun crimes, they nevertheless assured Abbe Lowell that everything they needed was available via verifiable sources. And then this month — just days before a Delaware court may resolve the matter of whether JPMI owned the laptop when, he claims, an FBI agent told his father to lawyer up because, “You may be in possession of something you don’t own” — Hines claimed that, “the primary source of evidence in this case is the evidence obtained from the defendant’s Apple iCloud account, which was produced to the defendant in a readily searchable format.”

And then he sourced the most important texts to his case to the laptop — a source that not only isn’t readily searchable, but is not even indexed.

Happy Delaware laptop day, everyone. Things might start to get interesting.

Update: The docket reflects that Judge Robinson reserved judgment on Hunter Biden’s motion for summary judgment and CNN and Politico’s motions to dismiss.

Update: NBC’s Gary Grumbach did a thread on the hearing. By his description, Hunter Biden will kill the suit against him easily (unsurprisingly, as he didn’t even mention JPMI’s name). But Grumbach didn’t include much of what must be a legal discussion about JPMI’s decision to release the information to Rudy.

Update, from comments: A detailed local report on the hearing, providing the detail that the biggest problem for Hunter’s claims are that he waited too long to sue.

Illustration of all the dissemination implicated in today’s hearing from Thomas Fine.

Click here for Hunter Biden’s Eight Legal Chessboards including links to all filings and schedules for other cases, including the Delaware lawsuit.


David Weiss Was Planning on Using Alexander Smirnov’s Claims against the Bidens Until He Wasn’t Anymore

On November 16, CNN reported on David Weiss’ ongoing use of a California grand jury. It reported that by that point, the FBI had concluded its renewed look at money laundering and FARA violations and was not going to file charges.

Prosecutors working under Weiss told a judge earlier this year that in addition to tax charges, they could also bring charges related to possible violations of the Foreign Agent Registration Act. Internal Revenue Service investigators who were part of the Hunter Biden investigation have alleged that the prosecutors slow-walked and blocked efforts to look into possible money laundering and foreign lobbying allegations.

The FBI, which oversaw the money laundering and FARA portions of the investigation, concluded its findings and didn’t anticipate charges to emerge from those allegations, people briefed on the matter told CNN.

That was over a month after the September 27 interview at which Smirnov renewed and expanded his lies. No charges were going to be filed on November 16, CNN reported.

But on November 15, Abbe Lowell asked for discovery on the Scott Brady side channel and subpoenas to serve on people like Trump and Bill Barr.

  1. All documents and records reflecting communications from January 20, 2017 to the present (the “Relevant Time Period”) to, from, between, or among Donald J. Trump, William P. Barr, Geoffrey Berman, Scott W. Brady, Richard Donoghue, or Jeffrey A. Rosen relating to or discussing any formal or informal investigation or prosecution of Hunter Biden, or a request thereof.
  2. All documents and records reflecting communications from the Relevant Time Period to, from, between, or among Donald J. Trump, William P. Barr, Geoffrey Berman, Scott W. Brady, Richard Donoghue, or Jeffrey A. Rosen and any Executive Branch official, political appointee, Department of Justice official, government agency, government official or staff person, cabinet member, or attorney for President Trump (personal or other) discussing or concerning Hunter Biden.

Lowell raised the Brady side channel in his selective prosecution filing, too. David Weiss’ responses to such requests always misrepresented the ask, pretending it pertained to no more than directions from Jeffrey Rosen’s office to avoid overt pre-election investigative steps.

And all the while, according to the Alexander Smirnov detention memo, he kept getting on planes to meet Russian spooks.

In October 2023, SMIRNOV had in-person conversations with RUSSIAN OFFICIAL 1 overseas. During these conversations, RUSSIAN OFFICIAL 1 discussed his knowledge and seeming control of two groups of Russian operatives who were previously tasked with the assassination of a high-ranking official of COUNTRY C. RUSSIAN OFFICIAL 1 offered to stop the assassination efforts in exchange for certain things, including an agreement by COUNTRY C to stop targeting civilian-family members of certain Russian officials living in Moscow

[snip]

SMIRNOV attended a meeting in COUNTRY A [probably UAE] in December 2023 that was attended by RUSSIAN OFFICIAL 2, a high-ranking member of a Russian Foreign Intelligence Service. The primary purpose of the meeting was to discuss a potential resolution to the Russia-Ukraine war.

Against that background, there’s a detail in the Smirnov indictment that hasn’t attracted the attention it deserves.

David Weiss bases his authority for charging Smirnov — in California, not Delaware — on his Special Counsel authority.

41. In July 2023, the FBI requested that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware assist the FBI in an investigation of allegations related to the 2020 1023. At that time, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware was handling an investigation and prosecution of Businessperson 1.

42. On August 11, 2023, the Attorney General appointed David C. Weiss, the United States Attorney for the District of Delaware, as Special Counsel. The Special Counsel was authorized to conduct the investigation and prosecution of Businessperson 1, as well as “any matters that arose from that investigation, may arise from the Special Counsel’s investigation, or that are within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).”

The only way Smirnov could be covered under that Special Counsel grant of authority is if, when investigators interviewed Smirnov on September 27, they were investigating Hunter Biden. David Weiss was made Special Counsel to investigate Hunter Biden, not those who framed him and his father.

There’s a lot that Weiss left out of the indictment, like Scott Brady’s claim to have vetted Smirnov’s travel records and Bill Barr’s claim that Weiss was ordered in 2020 to further investigate the claim and Richard Donoghue’s order to Weiss, just days after Trump yelled at Bill Barr for not doing enough to investigate Hunter Biden, to accept a briefing on Smirnov’s claims.

But that detail makes it clear that the point of the interview was to investigate Hunter Biden, not — not at first, anyway — to investigate Smirnov. This is why, if Abbe Lowell gets discovery on this issue, I think this footnote will be vindicated (an argument I made back in November).

4 The discussion about the scope of the immunity agreement appears shaped by the prosecution’s investigation of the Smirnov allegations, which it began looking into just days before the July 26, 2023 hearing. (Smirnov Indict. ¶ 41 (noting the prosecution team began investigating Smirnov’s claims in July 2023).) While a host of possible crimes had been investigated, the defense understood that the FARA/bribery investigation had been closed and that the only pending issues concerned gun and tax charges. The Diversion Agreement resolved the gun and tax charges, which is why defense counsel believed the immunity agreement covered everything and would conclude the investigation. The push back from the prosecution and its discussion of an “ongoing” investigation—apparently tied to the Smirnov allegations—came as a surprise to defense counsel. (7/26/23 Tr. at 50, 54.) Having taken Mr. Smirnov’s bait of grand, sensational charges, the Diversion Agreement that had just been entered into and Plea Agreement that was on the verge of being finalized suddenly became inconvenient for the prosecution, and it reversed course and repudiated those Agreements.

The reason why David Weiss reneged on a plea deal was to chase this bribery claim. The reason why David Weiss charged Hunter Biden with a bunch of felonies rather than resolving this in a diversion and misdemeanors was because he wanted to chase the false claims floated by someone dallying with Russian spies.

And I’d be willing to bet that if Lowell hadn’t asked for discovery that may expose that fact, David Weiss would never have indicted Alexander Smirnov.


Hunter Biden’s CA Motions to Dismiss

I’m just going to post them here. I will read them over the course of days.

Immunity because of diversion

Machala declaration

Transcript of plea hearing

Diversion agreement

Plea agreement

Christopher Clark declaration

Margaret Bray recommendation

SCO appointment

Selective prosecution

Dur process violations (IRS)

Machala declaration

Joseph Ziegler email

Lola Watson email

Untimely

Duplicity

Specific selection (2019)

Machala declaration

IRS announcement

IRS Covid announcement

IRS Covid announcement 2

Venue

Surplussage

Machala declaration

Indictment


Alexander Smirnov Admits Russian Spies Passed on Lies about Hunter Biden

The detention memo for Alexander Smirnov is here. David Weiss’ team says Smirnov can’t be released because he had plans for a months long trip starting on February 16, he has $6 million in the bank, and he has ties to spies from multiple countries.

Apparently, after he was arrested last week, he admitted that some of the claims about Hunter Biden he repeated came from Russian spies.

During his custodial interview on February 14, Smirnov admitted that officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved in passing a story about Businessperson 1.

[snip]

While Smirnov has no ties to the community in Las Vegas, what he does have is extensive foreign ties, including, most troublingly and by his own account, contact with foreign intelligence services, including Russian intelligence agencies, and has had such contacts recently. Smirnov could use these contacts to resettle outside the United States.

As noted, 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.

Update: David Weiss and his team are dangerous incompetents. The Nevada judge released Smirnov with a GPS monitor. It’s the right decision, but insane from a national security perspective.


Smirnov and [a]Blow

There should be a slew of Hunter Biden filings coming in today, most in CA.

I’ll post them here until I do a longer read.

But they’ve filed their first one — a reply on their motion to compel — that we can have fun with in the meantime.

Hunter’s lawyers mock David Weiss, first, for mistaking sawdust for cocaine (they cite me), and then raise the arrest of Alexander Smirnov.

The Smirnov bit is the more important argument, because it makes the same (in my very humble opinion) compelling argument I did: That the renewed focus on the Smirmov allegations are probably what led David Weiss to renege on a plea deal.

Another development, just last week, further informs Mr. Biden’s request for an now motion to compel discover. On February 15, 2024, Special Counsel David Weiss unsealed the remarkable indictment of former FBI informant Alexander Smirnov. United States v. Smirnov, 2:24-cr-00091-ODW (C.D. Cal.). The Special Counsel’s indictment notes that Mr. Smirnov expressed his “bias” against President Biaden and was telling a farcical tale that Burisma, a Ukrainian company, enlisted Mr. Biden as an unregistered foreign agent and paid bribes to him and then-Vice President Biden that proved to be so outlandish and unsubstantiated that the FBI field team recommended its investigation be closed and the then-FBI Deputy Director and thenPrincipal Associate Deputy Attorney General (Richard Donoghue) agreed in August 2020. 3 (Id. DE1 at ¶ 40 (“Smirnov Indict.”).) Nevertheless, with prodding from extremist Republican Members of Congress (who initiated an impeachment inquiry of President Biden based on the same baseless allegations) and the right-wing media, the prosecution team that was already pursuing Mr. Biden resuscitated the baseless investigation of Mr. Smirnov’s ridiculous claims against Mr. Biden thirty-four months later. (Id. ¶ 41.) It now seems clear that the Smirnov allegations infected this case, and why, on July 26, 2023, the Special Counsel answered as it did the Court’s question about whether the Diversion Agreement’s immunity provision would bar charges under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (7/26/23 Tr. at 55). 4

Lo and behold, some seven months later, the Special Counsel finally figured out that Mr. Smirnov was lying—which should have been obvious to everyone, certainly by August 2020 when DOJ closed the investigation. The Special Counsel charged Mr. Smirnov with lying and obstruction, but the more interesting part of this story is not that Mr. Smirnov lied. It is more remarkable that beginning in July 2023, the Special Counsel’s team would follow Mr. Smirnov down his rabbit hole of lies as long as it did. (Smirnov Indict. ¶¶ 41–46.) Disclosure about why the Special Counsel abandoned its June/July 2023 agreements with Mr. Biden and the role played by the Smirnov allegations may reveal flaws worse than mistaking sawdust for cocaine.5 Despite the prosecution’s strong words in its opposition to this motion, its actions demonstrate that the prosecution has gotten much wrong and provides good cause for Mr. Biden to question whether it has gotten its discovery obligations right.

3 Mr. Biden’s DOJ requests (see infra at 18–19), as well as his Rule 17 subpoena requests (DE 58) seeking communications and records from, among others, Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue and former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania Scott Brady, bear directly on and are probative of the allegations in the Smirnov Indictment. The fact that Special Counsel Weiss handled the Smirnov investigation and is prosecuting the case makes Mr. Biden’s requests all the more important.

4 The discussion about the scope of the immunity agreement appears shaped by the prosecution’s investigation of the Smirnov allegations, which it began looking into just days before the July 26, 2023 hearing. (Smirnov Indict. ¶ 41 (noting the prosecution team began investigating Smirnov’s claims in July 2023).) While a host of possible crimes had been investigated, the defense understood that the FARA/bribery investigation had been closed and that the only pending issues concerned gun and tax charges. The Diversion Agreement resolved the gun and tax charges, which is why defense counsel believed the immunity agreement covered everything and would conclude the investigation. The push back from the prosecution and its discussion of an “ongoing” investigation—apparently tied to the Smirnov allegations—came as a surprise to defense counsel. (7/26/23 Tr. at 50, 54.) Having taken Mr. Smirnov’s bait of grand, sensational charges, the Diversion Agreement that had just been entered into and Plea Agreement that was on the verge of being finalized suddenly became inconvenient for the prosecution, and it reversed course and repudiated those Agreements.

5 The prosecution’s outrage over criminal activity by those associated with its investigation remains rather selective. Last month, a former government contractor working at the IRS, who unlawfully leaked private taxpayer information concerning former President Trump , was sentenced to five years in prison—a significant sentence for a serious crime. United States v. Charles E. Littlejohn, No. 23-cr-00343-ACR (D.D.C. 2023). Nevertheless, two IRS agents on the prosecution’s team investigating Mr. Biden blatantly and publicly did the same thing, on television no less, and yet they have not been prosecuted or even fired by the IRS. Mr. Biden raised the agents’ misconduct several times with the Inspector General and Mr. Weiss. Neither have yet acknowledged the complaint. Thus, Mr. Biden brought a civil action based on these agents’ misconduct and their agency’s failure to act. Biden v. IRS, No. 23-cv-02711-TJK (D.D.C. 2023). Still, however, neither the IRS nor the prosecution has taken action against them. Ironically, the same extremist Republican voices who now angrily complain that Mr. Trump’s leaker got off too easy simultaneously claim the two IRS agents who leaked confidential tax information concerning Mr. Biden should be hailed as courageous “whistleblowers.” Chairman Jordan Opens Inquiry into DOJ’s Sweetheart Deal for Trump Tax Return Leaker, H. Judiciary Comm. (Feb. 8, 2024), https://judiciary.house.gov/media/press-releases/chairman-jordan-opens-inquiry-dojs-sweetheartdeal-trump-tax-return-leaker; Arjun Singh, Top GOP Rep Calls On More Whistleblowers To Come Forward, Pledges ‘Zero Tolerance’ For Retaliation, Daily Caller (July 19, 2023), https://dailycaller.com/2023/07/19/jason-smith-irs-whistleblower-retaliation/. The prosecution’s various actions and inactions send the very message that Mr. Biden’s motions to dismiss allege— misbehave when dealing with former President Trump and there will be consequences; do the same in the unprecedented charges against Mr. Biden and you will be praised.

This will be the last briefing Judge Maryellen Noreika gets before deciding on the motions to dismiss, so the timing of the Smirnov indictment becomes important.

Anyway, I’ll update when those other filings get posted.


58A-PG-3250958: Curiosities about the Alexander Smirnov Case

I wanted to flag two details of the Alexander Smirnov case — the FBI informant arrested upon arriving in Las Vegas last week on charges he made up a false claim that Mykola Zlochevsky had bribed Joe Biden.

First, the indictment repeatedly includes the assessment case number.

As part of that process, FBI Pittsburgh opened an assessment, 58A-PG-3250958, and in the course of that assessment identified the 2017 1023 in FBI holdings and shared it with USAO WDPA. USAO WDPA then asked FBI Pittsburgh to reach out to the Handler to ask for any further information about the reference in his 2017 1023 that stated, “During this call, there was a brief, non-relevant discussion about former [Public Official 1]’s son, [Businessperson 1], who is currently on the Board of Directors for Burisma Holdings [No Further Information]”.

[snip]

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. 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. [my emphasis]

In my experience, it is exceedingly unusual to include case file numbers in public documents. One big exception to that rule — the Crossfire Hurricane-related case filings — is instructive: Trump had those case numbers released as part of his effort to burn the investigation.

This case number — 58A — marks this as a bribery assessment.

That makes Bill Barr’s project sketchier than it already was. Here’s how Chuck Grassley described the genesis of this lead:

Although investigative activity was scuttled by the FBI in 2020, the origins of additional activity relate back to years earlier. For example, in December 2019, the FBI Washington Field Office closed a “205B” Kleptocracy case, 205B-[redacted] Serial 7, into Mykola Zlochevsky, owner of Burisma, which was opened in January 2016 by a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act FBI squad based out of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. This Foreign Corrupt Practices Act squad included agents from FBI HQ. In February 2020, a meeting took place at the FBI Pittsburgh Field Office with FBI HQ elements. That meeting involved discussion about investigative matters relating to the Hunter Biden investigation and related inquiries, which most likely would’ve included the case against Zlochevsky. Then, in March 2020 and at the request of the Justice Department, a “Guardian” Assessment was opened out of the Pittsburgh Field Office to analyze information provided by Rudy Giuliani.

So during Trump’s impeachment for extorting a bribery investigation, Bill Barr’s DOJ shut down a kleptocracy investigation of Mykola Zlochevsky, then, weeks later, opened up a back channel for Rudy Giuliani that led to an assessment of whether Mykola Zlochevsky had bribed Joe Biden.

Close a corruption investigation into Zlochevsky, then open a corruption investigation into an make-believe bribe Zlochevsky made to Joe Biden.

Somehow Scott Brady’s team found a passing notice about Hunter Biden in a 2017 informant report from Smirnov — he offered conflicting explanations of how he found this FD-1023 in his House Judiciary Committee interview — which led to the interview where Pittsburgh’s FBI allowed Smirnov to make allegations about Zlochevsky claiming to have bribed Biden that should have easily been debunked.

And then, after the assessment had been shut down, days after Trump yelled at Bill Barr about the Hunter Biden investigation, David Weiss’ team was ordered, by Richard Donoghue (who had concurred in closing the assessment), to accept a briefing on it. Barr’s story and the indictment conflict about whether Weiss should have investigated in 2020, which would have led him to discover these lies then, or was only asked to investigate further after Republicans (and Bill Barr!) had made a stink about the informant report again.

Meanwhile, it seems to have escaped notice that Weiss’ team is seeking to detain Smirnov pretrial.

It is almost unheard of to seek detention for a false statements case. Even assuming Weiss argues that Smirnov is a flight risk, people usually aren’t detained on such charges.

So detention may be more about the other claims Smirnov made to investigators last September: That he had (faked) recordings of Hunter Biden from a hotel in Kyiv, and that he had been working with some Russians since May 2023 to end the Ukraine war, a plan that had some tie to the 2024 election.

51. The Defendant also shared a new story with investigators. He wanted them to look into whether Businessperson 1 was recorded in a hotel in Kiev called the Premier Palace. The Defendant told investigators that the entire Premier Palace Hotel is “wired” and under the control of the Russians. The Defendant claimed that Businessperson 1 went to the hotel many times and that he had seen video footage of Businessperson 1 entering the Premier Palace Hotel.

52. The Defendant suggested that investigators check to see if Businessperson 1 made telephone calls from the Premier Palace Hotel since those calls would have been recorded by the Russians. The Defendant claimed to have obtained this information a month earlier by calling a high-level official in a foreign country. The Defendant also claimed to have learned this information from four different Russian officials.

53. The Defendant told investigators that the four different Russian officials are all top officials and two are the heads of the entities they represent. These Russians said that conversations with Ukrainians about ending the war will include the next U.S. election. The Defendant told investigators he is involved in negotiations over ending the war and had been for the previous four months. According to the Defendant, the Russians want Ukraine to assist in influencing the U.S. election, and the Defendant thinks the tapes of Businessperson 1 at the Premier Palace Hotel is all they have. The Defendant told investigators he wants them to ask Businessperson 1 how many times he visited and what he did while at the Premier Palace Hotel. [my emphasis]

That is, seemingly of the belief that the FBI would be amenable to this plan, Smirnov claimed to be involved in an information operation for the third straight election.

Remember, the indictment ties Smirnov to the Andri Derkach influence operation in 2020 by tying the genesis of Smirnov’s 2020 bribery claims to this article, reporting on probably fabricated tapes between Joe Biden and Petro Poroshenko.

A Ukrainian lawmaker who met with Rudolph W. Giuliani late last year released recordings of private phone calls several years ago between Vice President Joe Biden and Petro Poroshenko, then Ukraine’s president, in a new broadside against the presumptive Democratic nominee for U.S. president that has raised questions about foreign interference in the 2020 election.

The recordings played at the news conference Tuesday shed relatively little new light on Biden’s actions in Ukraine, which were at the center of President Trump’s impeachment last year. They show that Biden, as he has previously said publicly, linked loan guarantees for Ukraine to the ouster of the country’s prosecutor general in 2015. But Derkach used the new clips to make an array of accusations not proven by the tapes.

Smirnov even claimed to have met with Poroshenko and Viktor Shokin in 2016.

One of the two AUSAs on this case, Sean Mulryne, is a Public Integrity prosecutor who has worked FARA cases (including that of Elliott Broidy-related Nickie Lum Davis, who was represented by Abbe Lowell).

There may be — likely is! — more to this case than a simple false statement. But that’s another reason why David Weiss has no business overseeing a case in which he is a direct witness.


Tony Bobulinski Says Trump’s Impeachment Radicalized Him

I wrote two short threads on the Tony Bobulinski transcript released this week (one, two).

As with all things involving James Comer’s Oversight Committee, it quickly disintegrated into farce.

The story Bobulinski told was that — as a former Q Clearance holder (he raised the Q Clearance he held years ago over a dozen times) — he wanted nothing to do with CEFC, because, “lying, cheating, and stealing is sort of an acceptable practice … in China.” But then, in 2017, he mysteriously put aside his concerns about all that to try to get in on that business deal. Then, when Hunter Biden grew to clash with Bobulinski shortly after Bobulinski got involved in efforts to do business with CEFC in 2017, Bobulinski got furious at not being able to deal with CEFC.

It took some time to lay out what Bobulinski was up to.

First, Dan Goldman elicited Bobulinski to express how furious he was at being cut out of the business.

Mr. Bobulinski. SinoHawk did not receive the $10 million because —

Mr. Goldman. Thank you.

Mr. Passantino. Hold on. Hold on. He can finish.

Mr. Bobulinski. Hunter and Jim defrauded me at the end of July — not just me, but the other members of Oneida Holdings. You’re a litigator, former prosecutor at the SDNY. You’ve seen the fully executed SinoHawk documents, the fully executed Oneida, LLC documents. You’re a wealthy man. You’re very familiar with LLCs.

They had a fiduciary duty to not circumvent, lie, or embezzle funds. And at the end of July 2017, that’s well-documented, Hunter Biden invokes his father to basically shake down and extort the Chinese to not send the money to SinoHawk Holdings and send it directly to a new entity that he worked overtime to form so he could put the money in his own pocket and Jim Biden’s pocket.

Mr. Goldman. That clearly upsets you.

Mr. Bobulinski. Have you ever been defrauded in your life?

Mr. Goldman. No. I’m just —

Mr. Bobulinski. Have you ever been defrauded?

Mr. Goldman. I’d like the record to reflect that Mr. Bobulinski was —

Mr. Bobulinski. You want to answer the question?

Mr. Goldman. No. I ask the questions, you answer the questions. You’re the witness.

And I would like the record to reflect that Mr. Bobulinski raised his voice as he was explaining that the —

Mr. Bobulinski. I clearly — hold on. Hold on. For the record — hold on, Mr. Goldman.

For the record, I was defrauded at the end of July 2017 by the Biden family. And as would anybody be, I was disappointed, frustrated, and angry that I was defrauded as a businessman that worked extremely hard to put this business together.

Mr. Goldman. And you’re still angry, right? You’re still angry, aren’t you?

Mr. Bobulinski. I’m angry that the American people have been lied to for four years about the facts of Joe Biden —

Mr. Goldman. You’re not angry about being defrauded?

Mr. Bobulinski. No. I’m a wealthy individual.

The money that Joe — the Bidens — took from me is less than $2 million at the time. I would donate that to whatever charity you would ask me to donate that to, Mr. Goldman.

Mr. Goldman. So you’re over it now?

Mr. Bobulinski. I’m over which aspect of it?

Mr. Goldman. You’re over being what you claim to be defrauded?

Mr. Bobulinski. I am angry that the American people continue to be lied about — lied to about Joe Biden and the Bidens’ involvement in —

Mr. Goldman. I appreciate that. It’s not your own financial interest. I get it.

You’re just here having nothing to do with that.

I’ll turn it back over to counsel.

From there, staffers tried to get Bobulinski to admit that the business deal he signed was with only Hunter and Jim, not Joe. Bobulinski, as he did over and over when the facts didn’t match his claims, accused people of lying. So Goldman and the staffers riffed about all the people Bobulinski had accused of lying.

Mr. [redacted]. The Biden family — the Biden family — exhibit 6, your partners are — called Bidens — are James Biden and Hunter Biden, right?

Mr. Bobulinski. Why did I meet with Joe Biden? You are obfuscating the facts of what transpired by talking —

Mr. Goldman. Sir, he’s asking you a simple question.

Mr. Bobulinski. It isn’t a simple question, Congressman Goldman.

Mr. Goldman. It’s not a simple question?

Mr. Bobulinski. No, it’s not a simple question.

Mr. Goldman. Who are the partners from the LLC?

Mr. Bobulinski. You continue to lie and obfuscate the facts to the American people. That’s why my voice is raised —

Mr. Goldman. Good. So now we’re back —

Mr. Bobulinski. — because he’s about to do it.

Mr. Goldman. So the FBI, The Wall Street Journal, Cassidy Hutchinson, all of us — there was another one. Who else lied? Yeah, the FBI agents. We’ve got that.

Mr. [redacted]. Rob Walker.

Mr. Goldman. Rob Walker.

Mr. [redacted]. James Gilliar.

Mr. Goldman. James Gilliar.

Mr. Passantino. Are there questions here pending?

Mr. Bobulinski. Do you have a question?

The Democratic staffer returned to the Oneida Holdings agreement between Bobulinski and Hunter Biden and — after much pulling of teeth — got Bobunlinski to admit that Joe Biden was not one of his partners.

Q You signed a limited liability agreement for Oneida Holdings, LLC, correct?

A I did.

Q And this is a truthful and accurate document about the organization of the company, right?

A It is. It’s a binding legal agreement.

Q You wouldn’t sign —

A That’s why I can confidently state they defrauded me in July of 2017, yes.

Q You wouldn’t sign your name to a false document, right?

A Of course not.

Q And this document accurately sets out who your business partners are, right?

A That’s a vague question, “accurately.” It commemorates who ultimately was —

Q The LLC document does not care about —

A Wait, wait, wait.

Q No. My questions, Mr. Bobulinski.

Are you — is your testimony here today that this limited liability company agreement does not clearly set forth the partners of Oneida Holdings, LLC?

A That was not my testimony. My testimony was that that executed agreement clearly defines there are five entities that own 20 percent each. I’ve gone through that, I think, now three times.

Q And those entities are Hunter Biden’s entities? A Correct.

Q James Biden’s entities?

A Correct.

Q John Walker’s entity?

A Well, not John Walker. Don’t misstate for the record.

Q John R. Walker.

A Rob Walker.

[snip]

Q Mr. Bobulinski, I’m just trying to ask you who your partners in Oneida 10 Holdings, LLC are. This isn’t supposed to be a hard question.

[snip]

BY MR. [redacted]:

Q This is a simple question, who his partners are.

A And I’m giving you simple answers. I’ve already testified to this three — I think, three times at this point.

Q So then let’s do it quickly. Your partners are Hunter Biden, James Biden, Rob Walker, James Gilliar, and yourself?

A Yeah, that’s an incorrect statement. My partners were the LLCs that represented Hunter Biden, Jim Biden, Rob Walker, James Gilliar, and myself.

Q Okay. Great.

And when you say that your — the Biden family cheated you, your partners —

A It’s called fraud.

Q Defrauded you.

A I used the specific word.

Q You’re referring to — you’re referring to James Hunter — James Biden and Hunter Biden, who opened Hudson West III. Is that correct?

A Ask the question. But, generally, I think.

Q Okay. So when you’re talking about the Biden — your partnerships with the 22 Biden family, you’re talking about Hunter Biden and James Biden?

A That’s not what I’m talking about. I’ve spent at least almost four hours now 24 talking about my meetings with Joe Biden, how Joe Biden was invoked, us trying to get 25 Joe Biden to a meeting in New York, and stuff like that, so I don’t —

Q Joe Biden was your partner?

There were some other choice moments, such as when Bobulinski treated the prospect of Trump taking CEFC money while Commander-in-Chief as merely hypothetical…

Q There was a report that came out in January in which the Oversight Committee Democratic staff showed with receipts that Donald Trump, while he was Commander in Chief, received money from CEFC.

Assuming that fact to be true, does that give you concern?

A I think your question is actually absurd, and the statement is absurd, because if you could show me that money — you’re acting — I guess you’re asking me to opine that did CEFC give Donald Trump money directly into his pocket. I can’t opine on that.

Q I’m just asking you if he were to have received money from CEFC, would you find that troubling? You just described at length how concerned you were at CEFC, the national security implications.

I’m asking you, a Commander in Chief —

A You’re asking me a hypothetical, and you want me to respond to the hypothetical?

Q Sure.

Mr. Passantino. You can respond to the best of —

Mr. Bobulinski. I would be just as concerned — maybe my answer would be, if the Trump family had done with CEFC what the Biden family had done, I would be equally as vocal and concerned about our national security and voicing those concerns and getting those facts out to the American people. I never did business with the Trump family. I never considered doing business and all that stuff, so I —

After which, in the next hour, Bobulinski corrected a Republican staffer who later said that allegation was mostly about Trump’s fancy DC hotel (though went on to say the condo via which CEFC paid Trump was about its location across from the UN, not Trump’s name).

Q And I just want to clarify one hypothetical that the minority brought up, which is if Donald Trump, Vice President, received any money from CEFC, I think some material facts that they omitted from that is that Donald Trump had a very famous hotel in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere.

And so they did not tell you in their hypothetical that, as part of the money that they’re describing, it’s people staying at his hotel.

A Okay. I didn’t — I’ve seen some articles reference that CEFC had a condo.

I was never in the condo, but if you read the 1,200 pages of the Patrick Ho trial, they reference that condo in Trump Tower New York that was — there’s a reason why.

If it was called the Smith Tower, they would have had one in the Smith Tower.

Democrats focused remarkably little on Bobulinski’s relationship with the son of Viktor Vekselberg (one of the issues that gave Rob Walker concern with doing business with Bobulinski). After he complained amounted to smearing him with, “Russia Russia Russia,” Democrats dropped it (and didn’t pursue other allegations of ties to Russian money or his inconsistent statements about the role of Rosneft in the split over CEFC).

Q And, when you were in Las Vegas, you were there with somebody named Alex Vekselberg, correct?

A Ask the question again.

Q Alex Vekselberg, you were in Las Vegas with Alex Vekselberg?

A I wasn’t there with him. He was in Las Vegas for other things, but he did —

Q At some point, you were together with him in Las Vegas?

A I was. I was, correct.

Q And you know that Mr. Vekselberg is the son of Viktor Vekselberg?

A Well, I know that Alex Vekselberg is an American citizen born in the United States, a Yale-educated individual and a successful businessman in his own right. And I do know that he is the son of Viktor Vekselberg.

Q And you know that Viktor Vekselberg is a Russian oligarch who’s been sanctioned now by the United States several times?

A It’s actually funny you should ask me that. I’m actually surprised you guys don’t know this. Viktor Vekselberg was actually born in Ukraine. So he’s not a Russian.

He’s a Ukrainian businessman. You can look it up. I think I was born within a hundred miles of the Polish border, and so he’s a Ukrainian businessman.

And I don’t — I’m not aware of — I thought you guys were big supporters of Ukraine. You try to use Russia to paint different things, but he’s actually — my understanding, just — you can look it up. He was born in Ukraine. And — and so your question?

Q Oh, I think you answered my question.

A Okay, great. Oh, sorry, I didn’t answer your question. You asked — you made some reference to sanctions. I’m not aware of that and when that happened and all those nuances. But, once again, I can’t, because —

Q Well, you do know where he was born within a hundred miles.

A Well, because I looked it up, right? I wasn’t told that. I looked it up.

Everyone in here can look it up. And, second, I want to reiterate that Alex Vekselberg is an American citizen afforded the same rights, respect as you and I. Well, I can’t speak for you, that I am as an American citizen. And, at the time I had that meeting in Las Vegas, his father was not sanctioned by the United States.

Mr. [redacted] Do you not believe my colleague is deserving of rights and respect?

Mr. Passantino. If you’re going to accuse him of associating with Russian oligarchs, that’s the answer you’re going to get.

Mr. [redacted]. We’ve not accused him of anything.

Mr. Bobulinski. No, no, no, no. Yes, you have. Yes, you have. No, no, no.

Your operatives — no, no, no.

Mr. [redacted]. We’re not accusing you of anything.

Mr. Bobulinski. Your Democratic operatives have written smearing stuff about Russia, Russia, Russia, attacking my family and myself, and it’s disgusting to me. I’m a former Naval officer —

Mr. [redacted]. Let me ask you a question.

Mr. Bobulinski. — who had the highest security clearance. So wait. To your question, I didn’t show her — I said I can’t assume she’s an American citizen. I don’t know that she’s an American citizen. I said he should be afforded all the rights and respect of an American citizen, as should I. If you’re an American citizen, then you should be afforded those same rights and respect.

That’s all background to Bobulinski’s alternative narrative about how he decided to take on Joe Biden — which he says started during the 2019 Trump impeachment and which led up — as Democratic staffers reviewed — to his pitch to the WSJ before the Hunter Biden laptop came out in 2020.

Q So you expressed the reasons you came forward. You said the first cog was the impeachment of Donald Trump. The second cog was the nomination of Joe Biden.

You came out with this information publicly just before, weeks before the 2020 Presidential election. Is that correct?

A It’s not a true statement. And, second, it wasn’t that Donald Trump is the individual who was being impeached. It was that a President of the United States was being impeached with the obfuscation of how the Biden family operated and did business around the world. That was my frustration, anger.

And so I started thinking I know them to operate and how they operate his business. There’s lies being told and obfuscation. So it wasn’t specific to Donald Trump as an individual. It was specific to a President of the United States being impeached over what I believed were lies about how the Biden family did business around the world and operated.

Q Thank you. Your October 2020 press conference at the Marriott in Nashville, Tennessee, who organized that for you?

Mr. Passantino. I guess you can answer, again, to the extent you know.

Mr. Bobulinski. Organized what for me exactly, I’m asking?

In the end, Bobulinski kept obfuscating about his ties to the Trump campaign.

But he did tie his involvement in this attempt to impeach Joe Biden with the first attempt to impeach Donald Trump.


David Weiss Is a Direct Witness to the Crimes on Which He Indicted Alexander Smirnov

On the day that Bill Barr aggressively intervened in the parallel impeachment inquiry and Hunter Biden prosecutions last summer, David Weiss’ office sent out a final deal that would resolve Hunter’s case with no jail time and no further investigation. Within weeks, amid an uproar about claims in an FD-1023 that David Weiss now says were false, Weiss reneged on that deal. With the indictment yesterday of Alexander Smirnov, the source of those false claims, Weiss confesses he is a direct witness in an attempt to frame Joe Biden, even as he attempts to bury it.

On June 7, 2023, Bill Barr went on the record to refute several things that Jamie Raskin described learning about Smirnov’s FD-1023. Specifically, the former Attorney General insisted that the investigation into the allegations Smirnov made continued under David Weiss.

It’s not true. It wasn’t closed down,” William Barr told The Federalist on Tuesday in response to Democrat Rep. Jamie Raskin’s claim that the former attorney general and his “handpicked prosecutor” had ended an investigation into a confidential human source’s allegation that Joe Biden had agreed to a $5 million bribe. “On the contrary,” Barr stressed, “it was sent to Delaware for further investigation.”

“It wasn’t closed down,” Bill Barr claimed. As I’ll show below, according to the indictment obtained under David Weiss’ authority yesterday, that’s a lie. “It was sent to [David Weiss] for further investigation,” Bill Barr claimed, not confessing that it was sent to Delaware on October 23, 2020, days after Trump had yelled at him personally about the investigation into Hunter Biden. According to Barr, Weiss was tasked with doing more investigation into the Smirnov claims than Scott Brady had already done.

In the Smirnov indictment, Weiss now says that he only did that investigation last year, and almost immediately discovered the allegations were false.

The same day the Federalist published those Barr claims, June 7, and one day after Hunter Biden attorney Chris Clark spoke personally with David Weiss, Lesley Wolf sent revised language for the diversion agreement that strengthened Hunter Biden’s protection against any further prosecution.

The United States agrees not to criminally prosecute Biden, outside of the terms of this Agreement, for any federal crimes encompassed by the attached Statement of Facts (Attachment A) and the Statement of Facts attached as Exhibit 1 to the Memorandum of Plea Agreement filed this same day.

That language remains in the diversion agreement Leo Wise signed on July 26, 2023.

According to an unrebutted claim from Clark, on June 19, 2023, Weiss’ First AUSA Shannon Hanson assured him there was no ongoing investigation into his client.

36. Shortly after that email, I had another phone call with AUSA Hanson, during which AUSA Hanson requested that the language of Mr. Biden’s press statement be slightly revised. She proposed saying that the investigation would be “resolved” rather than “concluded.” I then asked her directly whether there was any other open or pending investigation of Mr. Biden overseen by the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office, and she responded there was not another open or pending investigation.

That day, June 19, was the first day Wise made an appearance on the case.

On July 10, a month after the former Attorney General had publicly claimed that his office sent the Smirnov FD-1023 to Weiss’ office for further investigation in 2020, Weiss responded to pressure from Lindsey Graham explaining why he couldn’t talk about the FD-1023: “Your questions about allegations contained in an FBI FD-1023 Form relate to an ongoing investigation.” The next day, Hanson fielded a request from Clark, noting she was doing so because “the team” was in a secure location unable to do so themselves. “The team” should have had no purpose being in a secure location; they should have been preparing for the unclassified plea deal.

By July 26, the same day Leo Wise signed a diversion agreement that said Hunter wouldn’t be further charged, he made representations that conflicted with the document he had signed, claiming Hunter could still be charged with FARA. That was how, with David Weiss watching, Wise reneged on a signed plea deal and reopened the investigation into Hunter Biden, leading to two indictments charging six felonies and six misdemeanors.

According to the Smirnov indictment, sometime in July (tellingly, Weiss does not reveal whether this preceded his letter to Lindsey Graham, whether it preceded the plea colloquy where Leo Wise reneged on a signed deal), the FBI asked Weiss’ office to help in an investigation regarding the FD-1023.

In July 2023, the FBI requested that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware assist the FBI in an investigation of allegations related to the 2020 1023. At that time, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware was handling an investigation and prosecution of Businessperson 1.

It is virtually certain that the FBI asked Weiss to pursue whether any leads had been missed in 2020, not whether Joe and Hunter Biden had been unfairly framed. That’s because Weiss cannot — should never have — led an investigation into how the Bidens were framed. He’s a witness in that investigation. 

So it is almost certain that the FBI decided to reopen the investigation into the FD-1023, perhaps based in part on Bill Barr’s false claims. It is almost certain that this investigation, at that point, targeted Joe and Hunter Biden. It is almost certain that this is one thing Weiss used to rationalize asking for Special Counsel authority.

And that’s probably why, when Weiss’ team interviewed Smirnov on September 27, Smirnov felt comfortable adding new false allegations.

51. The Defendant also shared a new story with investigators. He wanted them to look into whether Businessperson 1 was recorded in a hotel in Kiev called the Premier Palace. The Defendant told investigators that the entire Premier Palace Hotel is “wired” and under the control of the Russians. The Defendant claimed that Businessperson 1 went to the hotel many times and that he had seen video footage of Businessperson 1 entering the Premier Palace Hotel.

52. The Defendant suggested that investigators check to see if Businessperson 1 made telephone calls from the Premier Palace Hotel since those calls would have been recorded by the Russians. The Defendant claimed to have obtained this information a month earlier by calling a high-level official in a foreign country. The Defendant also claimed to have learned this information from four different Russian officials.

Smirnov seemingly felt safe telling new, even bigger lies. In his mind, Hunter and Joe were still the target! Again, that is consistent with the investigation into Hunter Biden being reopened based off Bill Barr’s public pressure.

According to the Smirnov indictment, David Weiss’ team found evidence that proves Bill Barr lied and Scott Brady created a false misimpression — the former, to pressure him — Weiss — and the latter, in testimony to Congress that was also part of the pressure campaign against the Bidens.

Compare Bill Barr’s claim made on the day when Weiss agreed that Hunter would face no further charges with what the Smirnov indictment states as fact. The Smirnov indictment says that Scott Brady’s office closed the assessment, with the concurrence of David Bowdich and Richard Donoghue, which is what Jamie Raskin said (though Raskin said Barr himself concurred).

40. 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. 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.

But Barr told the Federalist that it was not closed down, it was forwarded — by Richard Donoghue, days after the President yelled at Barr about this investigation (though he didn’t say that) — to David Weiss for more investigation.

It’s not true. It wasn’t closed down,” William Barr told The Federalist on Tuesday in response to Democrat Rep. Jamie Raskin’s claim that the former attorney general and his “handpicked prosecutor” had ended an investigation into a confidential human source’s allegation that Joe Biden had agreed to a $5 million bribe. “On the contrary,” Barr stressed, “it was sent to Delaware for further investigation.”

Had it been forwarded to David Weiss for more investigation, had he taken those additional investigative steps Barr claims he was ordered to do, Weiss would have discovered right away the key things that proved Smirnov was lying, the claims that Scott Brady had claimed to investigate, the things that the Smirnov indictment suggest he newly discovered months ago.

According to Scott Brady’s testimony to Congress, his team asked Smirnov’s handler about things like travel records and claimed that it was consistent.

Mr. Brady. So we attempted to use opensource material to check against what was stated in the 1023. We also interfaced with the CHS’ handler about certain statements relating to travel and meetings to see if they were consistent with his or her understanding.

Q And did you determine if the information was consistent with the handler’s understanding?

A What we were able to identify, we found that it was consistent. And so we felt that there were sufficient indicia of credibility in this 1023 to pass it on to an office that had a predicated grand jury investigation. [my emphasis]

According to the Smirnov indictment, Weiss’ team asked the handler the same question — about travel records. Only, they discovered that Smirnov’s travel records were inconsistent with the claims the handler himself recorded in the FD-1023.

43. On August 29, 2023, FBI investigators spoke with the Handler in reference to the 2020 1023. During that conversation, the Handler indicated that he and the Defendant had reviewed the 2020 1023 following its public release by members of Congress in July 2023, and the Defendant reaffirmed the accuracy of the statements contained in it.

44. The Handler provided investigators with messages he had with the Defendant, including the ones described above. Additionally, the Handler identified and reviewed with the Defendant travel records associated with both Associate 2 and the Defendant. The travel records were inconsistent with what the Defendant had previously told the Handler that was memorialized in the 2020 1023.

Tellingly, when Brady was asked more specific questions about Smirnov’s travel records, his attorney, former Trump-appointed Massachusetts US Attorney Andrew Lelling, advised him, twice, not to answer.

Q And did you determine that the CHS had traveled to the different countries listed in the 1023?

Mr. Lelling. I would decline to answer that.

[snip]

Q The pages aren’t numbered, but if you count from the first page, the fourth page, the first full paragraph states, following the late June 2020 interview with the CHS, the Pittsburgh FBI Office obtained travel records for the CHS, and those records confirmed the CHS had traveled to the locales detailed in the FD1023 during the relevant time period. The trips included a late 2015 or early 2016 visit to Kiev, Ukraine, a trip a couple months later to Vienna, Austria, and travel to London in 2019. Does this kind of match your recollection of what actions the Pittsburgh FBI Office was taking in regards to this.

Mr. Lelling. Don’t answer that. Too specific a level of detail

Q You had mentioned last hour about travel records.

Did your office obtain travel records, or did you have knowledge that the Pittsburgh FBI Office obtained travel records?

Mr. Lelling. That you can answer yes or no.

Mr. Brady. Yes.

If Brady obtained those travel records, he would have discovered what Weiss did: Neither Smirnov’s travel records nor those of his subsource, Alexander Ostapenko, are consistent with the story Smirnov told.

o. Associate 2’s trip to Kiev in September 2017 was the first time he had left North America since 2011. Thus, he could not have attended a meeting in Kiev, as the Defendant claimed, in late 2015 or 2016, during the Obama-Biden Administration. His trip to Ukraine in September 2017 was more than seven months after Public Official 1 had left office and more than a year after the then-Ukrainian Prosecutor General had been fired.

[snip]

34. Further, the Defendant did not travel to Vienna “around the time [Public Official 1] made a public statement about [the thenUkrainian Prosecutor General] being corrupt, and that he should be fired/removed from office,” which occurred in December 2015.

Paragraph after paragraph of the Smirnov indictment describe how the travel records — the very travel records that the handler and Scott Brady claimed corroborated the allegation — proved Smirnov was lying.

The record is quite clear that Bill Barr and Scott Brady made false representations about activities that directly involved David Weiss in 2020.

And yet Weiss has been playing dumb.

Abbe Lowell made a subpoena request and a discovery request relating to these matters on November 15. Lowell not only laid out this scheme in his selective and vindictive prosecution claim, but he cited the Federalist story in which Barr lied. He cited these matters in his discovery request.

Rather than acknowledging that Weiss’ team had discovered evidence that proved the claims of Barr and Brady were misrepresentations, Weiss’ team lied about the extent of Richard Donoghue’s role — documented in a memo shared by Gary Shapley — in forcing Weiss to accept the FD-1023 on October 23, 2022.

Next, defendant alleges that “certain investigative decisions were made as a result of guidance provided by, among others, the Deputy Attorney General’s office.” ECF 58, at 3 n.4. In fact, the source cited revealed that the guidance was simply not to conduct any “proactive interviews” yet.

And now, on the eve of Abbe Lowell submitting a reply on his motion to compel and a selective prosecution and discovery request in California, David Weiss has unveiled a belated indictment proving that Lowell’s allegations were entirely correct. The indictment may well provide excuse to withhold precisely the discovery materials Lowell has been demanding for months, and it may create the illusion that Barr’s pressure led Weiss to renege on a plea deal. But it is a confession that there was an attempt to frame Joe Biden and his son in 2020.

What David Weiss discovered — if he didn’t already know about it — is that he was part of an effort to frame Joe Biden in 2020, an effort that involved the Attorney General of the United States. If Merrick Garland is going to appoint Special Counsels for these kinds of things, one should be appointed here, especially given that Donoghue required the briefing on the FD-1023 days after Trump personally intervened with Bill Barr.

But David Weiss can’t lead that investigation. He’s a witness to that investigation.

Update: Fixed how long it took Weiss to renege on the deal after Bill Barr’s false claim.

See Hunter Biden’s Eight Legal Chessboards for links to all the filings.


The Gaps in David Weiss’ Belated Indictment of Alexander Smirnov

David Weiss has indicted the informant behind an FD-1023 that Bill Barr used to justify the ongoing investigation into Hunter and Joe Biden. Weiss charged Alexander Smirnov with one count of false statement and one count of obstruction.

The indictment alleges that Smirnov lied about the meetings he did have with Burisma, and lied about what Burisma officials told him.

The indictment ties Smirnov’s efforts to frame Joe Biden with Rudy Giuliani’s efforts, though without naming Rudy. For example, the indictment describes that both before and after this article, Smirnov promised his handler that Biden would soon be going to jail.

But the citations of the article simply omit mention of Rudy.  

In describing the side channel that Barr set up, it attributed the project to Jeffrey Rosen, not Barr.

It omitted mention that the side channel was primarily set up so that Rudy could share information, including information from Russian spies. And it didn’t describe that, per Scott Brady, he found Smirnov’s report by seeking information on Hunter and Burisma.

Q And the original FD1023 that you’re referring as information was mentioned about Hunter Bidden and the board of Burisma, how did that information come to your office?

A At a high level, we had asked the FBI to look through their files for any information again, limited scope, right? And by “limited,” I mean, no grand jury tools. So one of the things we could do was ask the FBI to identify certain things that was information brought to us. One was just asking to search their files for Burisma, instances of Burisma or Hunter Biden. That 1023 was identified because of that discreet statement that just identified Hunter Biden serving on the Burisma board. That was in a file in the Washington Field Office. And so, once we identified that, we asked to see that 1023. That’s when we made the determination and the request to reinterview the CHS and led to this 1023. [my emphasis]

It describes that after Pittsburgh closed their assessment (something Bill Barr has public disputed), the FBI interviewed Smirnov again, and he lied again.

It doesn’t describe that after Smirnov changed his story, and days after (in October 2020) Donald Trump yelled at Bill Barr about Hunter Biden, Richard Donoghue ordered David Weiss to accept a briefing on the FD-1023.

And the timing of the claimed investigation stinks.

It claims that some time in July 2023, the FBI asked David Weiss to help investigate the source that Weiss had been ordered to integrate into his investigation years before.

It doesn’t mention that Weiss was already under pressure from Lindsey Graham to use the informant report against Hunter Biden.

The FBI interviewed Smirnov’s handler on August 29 of last year. They interviewed Smirnov on September 27, where — they allege — he told still more lies.

But they did nothing when Hunter Biden asked for discovery on this on November 15, repeatedly misrepresenting Richard Donoghue’s role in it.

They only indicted after Judge Mark Scarsi suggested, in a preliminary hearing on January 11, that he would provide discovery on matters outside of prosecutorial deliberations.

Now they can withhold the details of how David Weiss used “a little more colorful language” when he acquiesced to accepting other materials from Scott Brady.

Great! They indicted another of James Comer’s great hopes to impeach Joe Biden.

But there are few people left in DOJ who are more conflicted on this prosecution than David Weiss.

Update: Took out a reference to the September 2023 interview that was out of timeline.


Mr. Smith Goes to SCOTUS

I’m close to bed, so I won’t read it here, but here is Jack Smith’s SCOTUS response on Trump’s immunity claim. This was Trump’s appeal.

Remember that this was technically an application for a stay, not the entire appeal (though one option for SCOTUS is that it treats Trump’s request as a cert position). What Jack Smith is arguing is that the stay should be lifted.

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Originally Posted @ https://www.emptywheel.net/2020-presidential-election/page/8/