Wednesday, February 21, 2024

A Little Night Narratology


Got fixated on a peculiar detail of the government case against Alexander Smirnov, the main witness in the Republican complaint according to which Hunter Biden and Joe Biden took $5 million each in bribes from Hunter's Ukrainian employer, Mykola Zlochevsky, and nobody else seems to be paying attention to it. 

Smirnov, a double agent working for Russian intelligence services and the FBI, gave the latter the story of the bribery, with advice as to how they could go about gathering evidence to back it up, and the Bureau gave it to Rep. James Comer and Senator Charles Grassley, who hoped to use it as a gigantic and appalling climax to their attempt to impeach the president, except, as we now know, when the special prosecutor found a moment to check the story out (34 months after receiving it), it turned out to be completely bogus, Smirnov's invention or that of his Russian handlers, and the Republicans' impeachment case, such as it was, is smashed to pieces, Smirnov is now under indictment for his deceit, and the prosecutor is trying to have him detained before trial, as a flight risk.  

It's in that document, special counsel David Weiss's request to deny bail to Smirnov, that the story of his collaboration with Russians emerged publicly for the first time, in the context of Weiss's long-delayed investigation of Smirnov's allegation—a story of Russian intelligence services promulgating disinformation to help elect Donald Trump to the presidency, which is, as you know, one of my favorite kinds of stories to tell, and the first big one of the 2024 campaign—so of course I was looking at it, and noticed this narrativium-packed paragraph (where Public Official 1 is the president and Businessperson 1 is his son):

Did you realize that Hunter Biden has never been to Ukraine? I didn't at all, but it's not really shocking, if you think about it for a minute. It's not like his job with Burisma required him to sit around in an office in Kyiv, ordering in lunch and flirting with secretaries. The only time his physical presence was required was twice a year at the board meetings, and there was no particular reason to hold those in Ukraine; they could be anywhere Zlochevsky could travel, which ruled out the UK (where he was under criminal investigation), the US, and Mexico, but there's Europe (he's got Cyprus citizenship). I'm thinking Vienna would suit them all best.

In fact, one of Hunter's main tasks was to get Zlochevsky a US visa, or at least a Mexican one (for a meeting that may have been a Burisma board meeting in February 2015), neither of which he ever succeeded in doing, in spite of his father being the vice president of the first country. Zlochensky was already paying Hunter a very generous salary to get him a visa; it's not  likely he'd give him and his father an additional $10 million until after the visa came through.

So much, then, for Smirnov's story about the video footage of Hunter going to the Premier Palace "many times". He hadn't been there even once, and this is what convinced Weiss that Smirnov was lying in the bribe allegation, some 41 months after the allegation reached his desk.

But that wasn't the thing that particularly grabbed me. There's yet another reference to a hotel infested by Russian spies in the document, which "mirrors" that story, but takes place in 2023 in "COUNTRY C", and doesn't claim to involve Hunter Biden:

As a matter of fact, COUNTRY C appears pretty clearly to be an ineptly disguised Ukraine (which was frightening Russian civilian officials with their daring drone attacks on Moscow at the end of August, while Russia was planning a winter offensive in Donetsk Oblast)

and it's hard to see how HOTEL 1 would be anyplace other than the Premier Palace in Kyiv. But what about those "prominent US persons" whose intercepted phone calls might be used for kompromat material?

Dr. Google quickly identified four American politicians visiting Kyiv in August 2023, presidential candidate Christopher Christie at the beginning of the month and Senators Richard Blumenthal, Elizabeth Warren, and Lindsey Graham, who met with President Zelenskyy on the 23rd.

It's Graham, obviously, that interests me here. At the time, he was a fervent proponent of US aid to Ukraine in the war. Now, he still denounces Putin, but he voted against the Senate's $90 billion bill, for reasons he hasn't made clear—some say it's fear of Trump, some say fear of his own voters. Then again, could it be fear of RUSSIAN OFFICIAL 4? WTAF?

Cross-posted at the Substack.

No comments:

Post a Comment