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In anti-Biden case, the GOP’s humiliation goes from bad to worse

According to a Trump-appointed prosecutor, the GOP’s star witness in the case against Joe Biden was fed bogus claims from Russian intelligence officials.

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The House Republicans’ impeachment drive against President Joe Biden has been such a fiasco that some in the GOP have begun describing the crusade with words and phrases such as “clueless,” “disaster,” and “parade of embarrassments.”

Last week, however, the party suffered what MSNBC’s Chris Hayes described as “the most spectacular embarrassment imaginable”: The Republicans’ star witness — the man at the heart of the GOP’s case — was arrested for lying to the FBI about the Bidens.

It seemed as if this couldn’t get much worse for House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan — right up until we saw prosecutors’ latest court filing. NBC News reported:

A former FBI informant who allegedly fed the bureau false information about President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden during the 2020 presidential campaign said that some of the information he spread came from “officials associated with Russian intelligence,” prosecutors said in a filing Tuesday.

Let’s take a moment to pause and review what we now know.

During the 2020 presidential election, a longtime FBI informant named Alexander Smirnov made a variety of claims about then-candidate Joe Biden and members of his family. Those claims were difficult to take seriously, and they appeared to be completely wrong for a variety of reasons, but key congressional Republicans seized on them anyway.

That was unwise: Special counsel David Weiss — a Trump-appointed prosecutor — recently concluded that Smirnov made up the incriminating stories about the Bidens. For the GOP, this was a humiliating disaster.

Indeed, as we discussed last week, for the Republicans hunting the Democratic president, Smirnov’s claims were foundational. Sean Hannity’s Fox News show ran with this informant’s claims in at least 85 separate segments last year. The Republicans’ entire “bribery” conspiracy theory was based on the claims this one informant made to the FBI.

Jordan himself publicly declared that he was relying largely on Smirnov’s claims as part of his pursuit of Biden.

But as mortifying as this was for the GOP, the new details add an epic twist: Smirnov didn’t just make up his fanciful anti-Biden tales, prosecutors argued, he did so after being fed claims from Russian intelligence officials.

In fact, according to the court filing, Smirnov “admitted that officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved in passing a story about” Hunter Biden.

The result is an unsettling dynamic: If the allegations from the Trump-appointed prosecutor are accurate, leading congressional Republicans might’ve served as conduits, not just for false claims, but also for Russian misinformation.

The “scandal” isn’t what Joe Biden did, it’s apparently what his accusers did.

This post updates our related earlier coverage.