Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Russian Intel Op Aided By MAGA Republicans


With the eager help of Putin-aligned MAGA Republicans, a Russian intelligence disinformation operation aimed at impeaching President Biden, smearing son Hunter, and helping the Malignant Loser politically almost worked. An FBI informant feeding the receptive MAGA politicians nonsense, Alexander Smirnov and the FBI dossier on him, proved to be little more than a Russian agent himself, but not before the far right wing echo chamber like Sean "Heil" Hannity and Fux "News" broadcast it over and over. Politico has a write up -- in Politico's style --of what it tells us:

"Word of the Smirnov dossier, memorialized internally at the FBI as a four-page report, leaked out and it became the white whale of House and Senate Republicans looking to impeach Joe Biden. Sen. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-Iowa) and Rep. JAMES COMER (R-Ky.) finally got their hands on it last summer.

It was never fact-checked. None of the exotic Slavic characters it implicated came to testify. None of Smirnov’s LE CARRÉ-like meetings in European locales (Kiev, Vienna, London) were confirmed. No recordings of Joe — “the big guy” in Smirnov’s suspiciously familiar words — ever surfaced. No financial records ever showed any Burisma payments to father or son.

But Smirnov’s curious tale of Biden family corruption was reported as fact on the right. “Biden $10M bribe file released: Burisma chief said he was ‘coerced’ to pay Joe, ‘stupid’ Hunter in bombshell allegations.” read a NY Post headline. By one count, SEAN HANNITY aired 85 segments about it.[snip]

But yesterday we learned something more unsettling: Smirnov’s story may have been planted by a Russian intelligence source. In a court filing, federal prosecutors detailed Smirnov’s extensive contacts with Russian officials over the course of many years and alleged that he made a shocking admission during his arrest last week.

“During his custodial interview on February 14, Smirnov admitted that officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved in passing a story about” Hunter Biden. They did not specify what the story was or clarify whether Smirnov claimed that the Biden family bribery lie was fed to him by one of his many Russian contacts. [snip]

The House impeachment effort had already been losing steam. Comer, the Kentucky Republican leading the effort, said recently that a vote might not happen at all, given the House GOP’s tiny majority. And many Republicans suddenly seem more interested in talking about Joe Biden’s age rather than his son Hunter. [snip]

“Obviously there’s a case that’ll have to play out here,” said a person close to Biden. “But based on the indictment and filing, it lays bare how unscrupulous the entire GOP and their enablers in right wing media have become. …Republicans in Congress ought to be facing the crushing burden of a massive scandal of their own making right now: An impeachment based on what might be a Russian intelligence operation. If nothing else, a criminal lie, based on the indictment.”  (our emphasis)

When Dems retake the House as expected in November, the Republicans' use of a "dossier" of false charges and information created by Russian intelligence should be investigated by the House Intelligence Committee.

BONUS: More discussion on MSNBC this morning.

(photo: Useful idiots Comer and Grassley. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images)

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