Abcarian: Republicans pushing to impeach Biden can’t see the egg on their faces

Abcarian: Republicans pushing to impeach Biden can’t see the egg on their faces

Now we know what a real Russia hoax looks like: very much like House Republicans’ stumbling effort to impeach President Joe Biden.

The current GOP misadventure — which was always doomed — was seriously undercut in federal court last month.

Republicans thought they had a smoking gun, a claim by a longtime, reliable FBI informant that Biden and his son Hunter had secretly accepted millions of dollars from the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma. Unfortunately for Planet MAGA — including House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer of Kentucky, impeachment resolution author Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and the entire lineup of Fox News hosts, who have been frothing at the mouth over this story — it was allegedly all a lie.

The smoking gun is turning out to be an exploding cigar. And the informant? Not so reliable after all.

Last month, a federal grand jury indicted Alexander Smirnov, 43, on charges he lied when he told the FBI that the Bidens had gotten $5 million each from Burisma. Not only that, according to special counsel Jack Weiss, who is overseeing the probe into Hunter Biden’s finances, Smirnov was probably coached to create the story by operatives associated with Russian intelligence in an effort to hurt President Biden as he faces reelection, most likely against Putin apologist former President Trump.

Boy, that Vladimir Putin just can’t keep his nose out of American presidential elections.

On Wednesday, Feb. 21, Weiss filed a request asking the federal judge overseeing Smirnov’s case to revoke bail, alleging that Smirnov “is actively peddling new lies that could impact U.S. elections after meeting with Russian intelligence officials in November.” Smirnov needs to be confined, Weiss said, because he has the financial wherewithal and connections to flee the country. On Thursday, Smirnov was rearrested in Las Vegas, where he lives.

Explosive accusations

Sadly, Republicans can’t seem to accept the implosion of their impeachment effort.

“It doesn’t change the fundamental facts,” Jordan insisted to reporters on Feb. 21 in an exchange posted by Forbes on YouTube.

“It does change the facts,” interjected a journalist off camera, “because they are no longer facts, because they’re not true.”

How did we get here?

In June 2020, Smirnov, a dual citizen of Israel and the United States, passed unverified information to his FBI handler. He said he met with Burisma executives in 2015 and 2016, and they told him about their payments to the Bidens. At that time, Burisma was the subject of a criminal investigation by the corrupt Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, who was later fired. Smirnov said he was told that Hunter Biden would “take care of all those issues” — Burisma’s vulnerabilities — “through his dad.”

Smirnov also said he was told that the payments would be so hard to trace, it would take a decade to find out where the money had gone.

MAGA Republicans caught wind of the accusations, which were laid out in an FBI form known as a 1023, a raw account of conversations between Smirnov and his FBI contact, with whom he had spoken almost daily for 10 years, thus the FBI’s belief it was dealing with a credible source.

You can imagine the GOP joy. They were so excited they released the unredacted, unverified document.

The FBI later said, however, that Smirnov had lied about being in Ukraine in 2015 and 2016. According to the indictment, he hadn’t had any contact with Burisma executives until 2017, well after Biden was out of office, and, in any case, his dealings with Burisma were “routine and unextraordinary.”

Out for revenge

Really, that should be that, impeachment-wise.

“I think it’s time for Chairman Comer and the Republicans to fold up the tent to this circus show,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., ranking member of the Oversight Committee. “It’s really over at this point.”

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The tenacity and self-delusion of the MAGA electeds is second only to Trump’s own.

Like Trump, they are angry. Like Trump, they are out for revenge — for the two Trump impeachments and for the 91 felony counts the former president faces. They are angry that their idol may be held accountable for allegedly trying to steal the 2020 presidential election in Washington, D.C., and Georgia, for allegedly removing classified documents and concealing them at Mar-a-Lago, and for allegedly paying hush money to a porn star. Like Trump, they are furious over the $355-million judgment against him for lying to lenders and New York tax officials about the value of his assets. And don’t even get them started on the $83 million he owes E. Jean Carroll after putting his fingers in her vagina and calling her a liar when she spoke out about the assault.

I don’t think MAGA Republicans would quite put it this way, but they are desperate to find some way to persuade Americans that Joe Biden is every bit as corrupt as Donald Trump.

They can’t, of course.

And so, like the dismembered Black Knight in that iconic fight scene from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” they comically cling to their mortally wounded impeachment scheme, proclaiming, “‘Tis but a scratch!”

Robin Abcarian is an opinion columnist at the Los Angeles Times. ©2024 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.