Russian Disinformation Op Against Biden Blows Up In GOP’s Face

INSIDE: Smirnov ... Trump ... Hannity
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 13: From right, House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-KY) and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH), who are leading the House Oversight investigation into the business ... WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 13: From right, House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-KY) and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH), who are leading the House Oversight investigation into the business dealings of the Biden family, are seen in the Rayburn House office building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on December 13, 2023. (Photo by Craig Hudson for The Washington Post via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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Run for Them Hills!

What a marvelous day of watching Republicans and their media enablers react in dramatic fashion to the explosive revelation that a key source – their main source, no less – of the bogus Biden bribery allegations underlying their impeachment push made it all up and was in bed with foreign intel services, including the Russians.

The bumbling response from the primary traffickers of the Biden misinformation campaign stretched from morning into late in the evening. The indictment of Alexander Smirnov last week on charges he fabricated the Biden claims was turbocharged by government filings this week that alleged Smirnov had “extensive and extremely recent” contacts with foreign intel services, including Russia.

The day started with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) claiming “it doesn’t change the … fundamental facts.” Like hell it doesn’t. By last evening Rep. James Comer (R-KY) was crawfishing hard:

As committee chairs – Oversight and Judiciary, no less! – Comer and Jordan were the dynamic duo who spearheaded dissemination of the Smirnov disinformation, but they were hardly alone. Aaron Blake identifies 10 Republicans who treated the Biden bribery claim like gospel.

Sean Hannity Is A Special Case

After spending months touting the false claims that originated with former FBI informant Alexander Smirnov, Fox News’ Sean Hannity was on the air last night complaining about the FBI not having better informants. Poor, Sean. Victimized by the FBI:

On a related side note, Hannity is struggling mightily with the revelation that the government’s claim that Hunter Biden had a photo of lines of cocaine was actually a photo of sawdust.

Can’t Get Enough

More on the Smirnov disinformation operation:

  • Josh Marshall: A Bigger Story Than You Can Possibly Imagine
  • Philip Bump: A new lens into the ongoing folly of Republican ‘Russia hoax’ rhetoric
  • Aaron Blake: Another GOP Biden ‘informant.’ Another indictment and link to Russia.
  • NYT: Who is Alexander Smirnow?

On A More Serious Note …

A federal magistrate judge in Nevada, where Alexander Smirnov was arrested, inexplicably allowed his release from custody this week. The Justice Department Wednesday appealed that decision to a district judge, arguing that Smirnov has the means, resources, and foreign contacts to be a very real flight risk.

Hate To See It

The massive civil fraud judgment against Donald Trump in New York is slowly starting to take a bite:

  • In what looked more like a delay tactic than an actual legal argument, Trump’s lawyers asked for a 30-day pause in enforcing the judgment against him. State Judge Arthur Engoron seemed unmoved by the argument.
  • Trump is racking up $87,502 per day in post-judgment interest until he pays the judgment, ABC News calculated.

Trump Doubles Down On NATO Bashing

Don’t forget that this is fundamentally a pro-Russia position:

How Biden Saved Brazil From Its Own Jan. 6

In a Foreign Policy article titled “How U.S. Pressure Helped Save Brazil’s Democracy,” Oliver Stuenkel argues: “Not only was Brazil’s democracy closer to the brink than initially understood, but targeted U.S. pressure on key Brazilian officials was likely decisive in guaranteeing the eventual outcome: a largely peaceful transition of power in the country after its October 2022 presidential election.”

Trump’s Government In Waiting

The NYT goes deep on the Conservative Partnership Institute: A Nerve Center for the Right Wing Rises in Washington.

CPAC Ain’t What It Used To Be

Dave Weigel on the MAGAfication of CPAC under alleged groper Matt Schlapp


My Pillow Guy Mike Lindell must cough up $5 million to the guy who won the “Prove Mike Wrong” challenge by debunking Lindell’s claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Totally Crazy

A federal judge in California has for a second time dismissed an indictment against violent white supremacists, ruling that they were selectively prosecuted for their ideological beliefs while “far-left extremist groups, such as Antifa, that went to the same protests and rallies and engaged in the same violent acts as alleged against the Defendants in this case” went un-prosecuted.

U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney (appointed by Bush II) ordered Robert Rondo immediately released from custody, which prompted the Justice Department to race to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals with an emergency motion to stay his release and continue to detain him pending a full appeal.

Federal authorities consider Rondo a flight risk. He was extradited from Romania to face the current indictment; he was tracked down in Central America back in 2018 to face the first indictment.

Excellent reporting on this by Meghann Cuniff.

IVF Is In The Right-Wing Crosshairs

The fallout continues over last week’s Alabama Supreme Court decision that frozen embryos are legally children:

  • Politico: Major Alabama hospital stops IVF treatment after court rules embryos are children
  • WaPo: At least two of Alabama’s eight IVF clinics paused some parts of IVF treatment.
  • Mark Joseph Stern: Alabama’s Assault on IVF Is Even Worse Than It Sounds
  • Joyce Vance unpacks the strange origin story of the Alabama ruling: “In Alabama, women can now be forced to have babies they don’t want and can’t have babies that they do.”
  • Alice Ollstein: Alabama’s IVF ruling risks political, legal backlash
  • Media Matters: Alabama Supreme Court chief justice spreads Christian nationalist rhetoric on QAnon conspiracy theorist’s show
  • Charles Blow: Alabama’s IVF Ruling Shows Our Slide Toward Theocracy

The Post-Dobbs World

NYT: Doctors in six states where abortion is legal are using new laws to send abortion pills to tens of thousands of women in states where it is illegal.

2024 Ephemera

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