Chuck Grassley rewrites history of his role in smearing Joe Biden

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley is well known for lamenting the lack of history on the History Channel. This week he has engaged in revisionist history about his role in spreading false allegations against President Joe Biden.

The senator spent months publicizing claims that the president and his son Hunter Biden took bribes from a Ukrainian businessman, even though FBI officials had warned Grassley and other Republican politicians the bribery had not been verified.

Now Grassley is trying to reshape the narrative, casting himself as the hero who helped expose the source of the false claims as a liar. He continues to push back against accusations that he has been a conduit for Russian disinformation.


Grassley had little to say last week after federal prosecutors asserted that Alexander Smirnov, a longtime FBI informant now charged with lying to federal agents about the Bidens, had ties to Russian intelligence. Prosecutors say Smirnov fabricated allegations of bribes to Hunter and Joe Biden, which were memorialized in an FD-1023 document from June 2020. Grassley released that document in July 2023 and has described its contents in numerous public statements and interviews.

The senator sought “to set the record straight” about the FD-1023 in a 23-minute speech delivered on the Senate floor on February 27. Here’s the video; I’ve enclosed the full text of the remarks (as prepared) at the end of this post.

Notably, this lengthy speech did not contain the words “bribe,” “bribery,” or “corruption.”

The central point of Grassley’s defense:

It’s all pretty simple. I didn’t promote or vouch for the allegations in the 1023 as the truth like some confused Democrats and the partisan media have falsely said. I pushed the FBI to do their job, because that’s my responsibility to the taxpayers and the people of Iowa.

While the senator never said everything in the FD-1023 was accurate, he certainly promoted the allegations.

He could have called on the FBI to more thoroughly investigate without sharing details about the uncorroborated claims. Instead, he made sure the public knew quite a lot about the supposed bribery.


In a Senate floor speech from June 12, 2023—more than a month before Grassley released the FD-1023—the senator complained that the FBI redacted from the document any “reference that the foreign national who allegedly bribed Joe and Hunter Biden allegedly has audio recordings of his conversations with them. Seventeen total recordings.”

He asked, “Well, what’s U.S. Attorney [David] Weiss doing with respect to these alleged Joe and Hunter Biden recordings that are apparently relevant to a high-stakes bribery scheme?”

An August 2023 news release from Grassley’s office reminded the public that he “released an FBI-generated document from 2020 alleging Joe Biden’s involvement in a criminal bribery scheme with a foreign national. It remains unclear what, if anything, Weiss’ team has done to investigate further.”

In an October 2023 letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray, Grassley seemed to vouch for the accuracy of the informant, complaining that “A D.C.-based FBI task force sought to falsely discredit as foreign disinformation various Biden family-related confidential human sources, including the source behind the FD-1023.”

In a December 2023 floor speech, Grassley again bragged about publishing the FD-1023 and repeated its most scandalous claims, noting the information came from “a highly credible, long-serving FBI Confidential Human Source.”

In July of this year, I obtained and publicly released what’s now called the Biden Family 1023.

An FBI-generated document based on information provided to the FBI by a highly credible, long-serving FBI Confidential Human Source.

That FBI document shows a criminal bribery scheme.

The criminal scheme included Joe Biden and Hunter Biden each being paid five million dollars for Joe Biden to take a policy position in favor of a foreign national.

That policy position was ultimately taken – Joe Biden even bragged about it. […]

The 1023 includes reference to audio recordings with Joe Biden, text messages and records allegedly proving a criminal bribery activity, and that it was real.

In addition, Grassley implied the Bidens committed crimes in numerous media appearances that reached large audiences. His staff shared some of those clips on the senator’s official YouTube channel.

For instance, in a July 2023 interview with Fox News, Grassley described the FD-1023 as having “a lot of meat in it.” As the senator spoke, words on the screen touted his “DECISION TO RELEASE BIDEN BRIBERY DOCS”

Grassley did preserve some deniability, telling that interviewer, “My job is not to determine whether Hunter Biden or President Biden is guilty of anything, whether they’ve done anything wrong. That’s up to the executive branch and the judicial branch.” But he went on to assert there is “rampant” political bias in the FBI, prompting them to “sweep this under the rug.”

The senator promoted other false corruption claims in a November 2023 interview with Larry Kudlow on Fox Business, also shared on Grassley’s official YouTube. Asked to comment on “laundered money” hyped by House Oversight Committee chair James Comer, Grassley said, “It doesn’t surprise me at all.” He claimed “we’re getting more evidence all the time” that some of the “laundered money” went to Joe Biden. Words at the bottom of the screen referred to “BIDEN’S WEB OF CORRUPTION” and $40,000 in supposedly “LAUNDERED CHINA MONEY.”

Philip Bump explained in this Washington Post article why that allegation was an “obviously dishonest claim.” Evidence showed the $40,000 check (written by Joe Biden’s sister-in-law) was for a loan repayment.


Grassley has yet to apologize for making millions of Americans aware of claims that turned out to be false. On the contrary, he sees himself as the hero of the story. Brianne Pfannenstiel reported for the Des Moines Register on a February 28 conference call with some Iowa reporters.

“Just think of what I did for the people this country for making sure that somebody was misleading the FBI is no longer going to mislead them,” Grassley told Iowa reporters during a weekly press call. “And think what I did for the people of this country to make sure that the FBI is doing its job.”

Since Grassley’s staff have never allowed me to participate in his press calls, I don’t know whether anyone tried to follow up by pointing out the numerous occasions that Grassley implied the Bidens did take bribes.

More from Pfannenstiel’s story:

“Then they interview this Smirnov, and they find out he’s been lying to them,” Grassley said. “Well, they’ve been paying him for 10 years. … So, the bottom line of it is, if I hadn’t made this public, this guy would still be working for the taxpayers and still probably being paid for it and still be lying to them.”

Grassley went on a similar riff in his Senate floor speech, saying the FBI “failed to investigate the allegations in the document” and listing many occasions he had called on them to do so.

He claimed “the 1023 sat with the FBI collecting dust” for three years, until he forced their hand by releasing the document. “All these partisan media outlets, if they had a shred of intellectual honesty and decency, would report those facts, and hold the FBI accountable for their failures,” he said.

Clearly the FBI should have done more in the summer of 2020 to investigate Smirnov’s story. Scott Brady, who was with the FBI’s Pittsburgh office at that time, has testified to Congress that he checked with Smirnov’s handler and determined the information in the FD-1023 was consistent with the handler’s understanding. But Brady’s team does not appear to have checked Smirnov’s travel records in 2020. Those records are not consistent with claims memorialized in the FD-1023.

Grassley assumes the lack of due diligence stems from an attempt to protect Biden—even though Donald Trump was president in 2020. He has accused the FBI of “covering for President Biden” on several occasions (see the June 2023 interview Grassley and Comer gave to Jesse Waters for his prime time Fox News show).

Kris Kolesnik led investigations in Grassley’s office early in the senator’s tenure but has criticized his former boss’s more “political” recent oversight efforts. Kolesnik told Bleeding Heartland in a February 28 email, “Grassley’s premise has been the FBI is showing political bias by frustrating investigations or dismissing derogatory information about Biden. His information came from whistleblowers. He has always suspected foul play by the Bureau but also leaves a strong impression that Biden might be implicated in wrongdoing.”

That’s not the only possible interpretation for the FBI’s failings in 2020. Marcy Wheeler has reported extensively on the Smirnov indictment and the FD-1023. She has noted that when Brady appeared before Congress, his attorney advised him not to answer questions related to Smirnov’s travel records. Wheeler has speculated that the FD-1023 was not fully vetted in 2020 because it was sent to Weiss’s office in Delaware “in an attempt to frame Joe Biden.”


Grassley had harsh words for his critics in his February 27 speech: “Now, some confused Democrats and partisan media have returned to their favorite line: falsely saying that our effort to get the FBI to do their job is somehow peddling Russian disinformation.”

Actually, federal officials—not Democrats or “partisan media”—linked Smirnov to Russian intelligence in a court filing seeking to keep the defendant in custody pending trial.

More to the point: Grassley still won’t accept responsibility for shouting from the rooftops about allegations that weren’t true. He wasn’t merely trying to “get the FBI to do their job.” He went on national television to talk about non-existent audio recordings attesting to non-existent $5 million bribes.

U.S. Representative Ken Buck, a Colorado Republican, defended the FBI in comments to the New York Times this week.

Mr. Buck, a former prosecutor for 25 years, said the F.B.I. had handled the allegation the way every professional law enforcement agency should.

“You don’t go running to the press every time a witness says something, because you don’t know what the reliability of that testimony is,” Mr. Buck said. “It was premature to go out and tout how significant this was without knowing the reliability of the testimony.”

After his arrest last month, Smirnov “admitted that officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved in passing a story” about Hunter Biden, according to a court filing by federal prosecutors. Some have called for an investigation to determine whether the whistleblowers who told Grassley about the FD-1023 were assisting a Russian disinformation campaign.


Near the end of his Senate floor speech, Grassley said “the American people really deserve the kind of nonpartisan oversight that I’ve been conducting for years.”

If only he were using his platform that way.

The record shows Grassley consistently ran interference for Trump during the last presidency. Trump himself said of Iowa’s senior senator in 2021, “When I’ve needed him for help he was always there. […] He was with us all the way, every time I needed something.”

In contrast, Grassley has relentlessly investigated Biden family members since 2019.

After describing the FD-1023’s contents on the Senate floor in June 2023, Grassley told a conservative radio host, “Well, I hope he [Trump] thinks I’m doing good work. I’d like to have him think that of my oversight work.”

Kolesnik warned last summer that Grassley was taking a huge risk by relying on the FD-1023, “a document of unverified information” that could be discredited, like the notorious “Steele Dossier” containing dirt on Trump. In his latest op-ed for The Hill, published on February 28, Kolesnik argued that Grassley and others had “embarrassed themselves again,” due to “their seemingly unrelenting fixation in taking down a Democratic president […].”

No matter how much the senator protests that he just wanted the FBI to investigate, everyone can see how hard he worked to convince Americans that Joe Biden took bribes. When someone writes the definitive history of Grassley’s career, this episode will be a shameful chapter.

Appendix: Full text of Senator Chuck Grassley’s prepared remarks on the Senate floor on February 27, 2024. (The speech as delivered did not deviate from the script in any significant way.)

Today I want to take the time of my colleagues to set the record straight yet again about the FBI-generated 1023.

And I do this because the breathless media misreporting requires that I come to the floor to give a historical reorientation with facts and evidence.

As I’ve said all along, I and Chairman Comer of the House made the 1023 document public for this single purpose: that purpose [was] to force the FBI to do what the taxpayers pay the FBI to do. That is, investigate, in this case.

It’s all pretty simple. I didn’t promote or vouch for the allegations in the 1023 as the truth like some confused Democrats and the partisan media have falsely said. I pushed the FBI to do their job, because that’s my responsibility to the taxpayers and the people of Iowa.

Now, some confused Democrats and partisan media have returned to their favorite line: falsely saying that our effort to get the FBI to do their job is somehow peddling Russian disinformation.

It’s kind of like a nervous tic for them.

For years, they falsely said the same thing about my and Senator Johnson’s Biden family investigation, even though our investigation was based on Obama-Biden administration records and authentic bank records.

Some Democrats and the partisan media apparently don’t care about observing and reading the facts.

Well, this senator does care about that.

So, let’s discuss the facts of the matter that they either missed or, more likely, are choosing to ignore because it doesn’t fit their narrative.

The whistleblowers within the Justice Department who came to me said the FBI had this document in their possession now three years ago, June of 2020.

The document’s dated June 30, 2020. 

Those whistleblowers that came to me were right.

Whistleblowers said the FBI considered its Confidential Human Source to be credible. That Confidential Human Source, which I’ll simply describe today as the FBI’s source, formed the basis of the 1023.

…We now know the name of that FBI source, but until he was arrested, I did not know his name.

The FBI said the same to Congress and used that credibility assessment to withhold the 1023 from Congress when we first asked for it.

Even Ranking Member Raskin of the House [Oversight] Committee confirmed that the FBI told Congress the FBI source was credible.

The FBI found their source so credible that the FBI gave their source the authority to engage in illegal activity for the FBI’s criminal investigations.

And yes, I want to make clear, the FBI said that he could do illegal things in his work for the FBI.   

The FBI told him that he may even have to testify in court based on the information he provided.

In fact, the FBI said that this source was so credible that the public release of the unclassified 1023 could put his life at risk…

Now, let me be clear: the FBI consistently and publicly vouched for their source.

Then, the other week, the Biden Justice Department made this source’s name public for the world to see… Apparently, the FBI’s excuse to withhold the document from Congress was pure smoke.

Remember, the FBI said releasing the 1023 could put the confidential human source’s life in danger.

The FBI’s conduct is obviously absurd and a disservice to the American people.

So, you can see, those whistleblowers were right about the FBI believing that their source was credible.

Whistleblowers said the FBI source served as a source for many years, dating to the Obama administration…

According to the Justice Department indictment, the FBI source worked for the federal government and was paid by the federal government.

Those whistleblowers were right.

Whistleblowers said the FBI failed to investigate the allegations in the document.

Let me refresh this history by giving you the timeline.

According to the Justice Department indictment, the FBI finally interviewed the FBI source on September 27, 2023. 

We made the 1023 public just a few months prior, on July 20, 2023.

Clearly, the FBI finally acted because of our release of the document. In other words, we embarrassed them.

And by that time, as I’ve said by my timeline, the document was over three years old.

Three years they didn’t do their job.

So, the 1023 sat with the FBI collecting dust until we, in Congress, acted.

My releasing the 1023 got the FBI to do its job that they should have been doing three years before.

I think it’s legitimate in this political climate we’re in this year, a presidential year, to ask the question: would Special Counsel Jack Smith have waited years to act if the 1023 was about former President Trump?

Those whistleblowers were right about the FBI’s failure to investigate.

I started my oversight relating to the FBI’s failure to investigate the 1023 on October 13, 2022.

I sent a letter to Attorney General Garland, Director Wray and U.S. Attorney Weiss to ask this very simple question: “What have the FBI and Justice Department, to include U.S. Attorney Weiss, done to investigate?”

I also asked for an array of records, including travel records, that the Justice Department has since used to indict the source. And I asked for the same records again on October 24, 2023.

I said this on May 3, 2023: “What we don’t know is what, if anything, the FBI has done to verify these claims or investigate further.”

I said this on May 5, 2023, about the 1023: “I wish I could say that I knew it was true or untrue.”

On May 9, 2023, I said: “My focus right now is on the FBI and the Department of Justice. What have they done with this document?”

On June 1, 2023, I said: “We’re responsible for making sure the FBI does its job, and that’s what we want to know.”

I came to this very floor on June 12, 2023, to say this:

“Here, with this 1023 document I’ve been referring to throughout my remarks, the Biden Justice Department and FBI must explain to Congress and the American people what, if anything, they’ve done with this information. And they need to show their work. We’re not accepting their word anymore. We’re seeking documentary proof of what they did to investigate the matter or their failure to so do.”

Then, after Comer and I publicly released the document, I said this on July 25, 2023:

“I want to make clear what my oversight focus is and will be: holding the Biden Justice Department and FBI accountable to explain to the American people what they did to investigate and what they found.

“What did the Justice Department and FBI do to investigate the information contained in the 1023? Did the Justice Department and FBI follow normal investigative process and procedure or try to sweep it all under the rug because of political bias? More precisely, did the FBI and DOJ seek to obtain the evidence referenced in the document? 

“Did DOJ and FBI seek to interview individuals relating to the 1023?  If not, why not?  If so, one way or the other, what did they find?”

Let me say that one line again so everyone hears me.

“One way or the other, what did they find?”

All these partisan media outlets, if they had a shred of intellectual honesty and decency, would report these facts, and hold the FBI accountable for their failures.

One congressional request after another went unanswered by the Justice Department and FBI.

So, considering that deafening silence and the FBI’s assertions that the source was credible, we made the 1023 public to force the FBI to do what they’re paid to do – to do their job. They were supposed to be investigating this matter three years ago, and doing it not for Chuck Grassley, but for the American people.

If Congress didn’t ask for transparency and accountability – in other words, us, in the Congress, doing our oversight work – we’d break faith with the American people. Just like the FBI didn’t do its job and broke faith with the American people.

And you know what else the Biden administration hasn’t answered?

My and Senator Johnson’s oversight requests.

Let’s not forget, there’s a larger investigative picture here other than just [the] 1023.

Senator Johnson and I released two reports in 2020 as part of our Biden family investigation.

We gave a series of floor speeches introducing bank records connecting the Biden family to communist China financial interests.

Then, on October 26, 2022, we sent hundreds of pages of those bank records to U.S. Attorney Weiss.

So then this question is appropriate. To my Democratic colleagues and, more importantly, the partisan media that’s not doing their job: are those authentic bank records that Johnson and I made public – is that Russian disinformation?

Now, Chairmen Comer, Jordan and Smith have built and advanced upon the foundation created by Senator Johnson and this senator.

So, here’s the question. Where’s the Biden Justice Department regarding those bank records and potential money laundering? Where’s the Biden Justice Department regarding Biden family members registering under the Foreign Agents Registration Act?

Another question: the Biden Justice Department appears concerned about their FBI source’s contact with foreign nationals – so, where’s that same concern regarding the Biden family’s foreign contacts?

Are the Justice Department and the FBI sitting on it just like they did with the 1023 for all those years?

Here’s another question to pose to the media and my colleagues. If we didn’t make the 1023 public, would the FBI have interviewed the FBI source?

Or would he remain on the taxpayer’s payroll for another 10 years, continuing to misinform the FBI?

What will happen to the defendants if this source’s information was used for a conviction or plea deal?

This is quite the mess for the Justice Department and FBI – and it’s one of their own making. 

My oversight investigations are done without regard to power, party, or privilege.

And I back that up by asking you to remember, I’m the senator that did a transcribed interview of Donald Trump Jr. when Donald Trump was president of the United States.

That’s when I was Chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

I also ordered my staff to interview other Republicans during my Crossfire Hurricane investigation.

And you know what, if I had the gavel today, I’d bring more Bidens to Congress to testify.

Because the American people really deserve the kind of nonpartisan oversight that I’ve been conducting for years.

And remember this, and it’s pretty simple: if the FBI came clean years ago about the 1023, we wouldn’t have had to release the document.

Instead, they played games, withheld the document from Congress, and provided false and misleading information to Congress and the American people.

We all knows that transparency in government brings accountability. 

Now, folks are being held accountable because of my congressional oversight. 

My oversight will continue. 

The FBI has a lot of explaining to do for their continued shortcomings and actions in this case.

When will the media ask the FBI to explain?

I’ve just explained it for the American people. I’d like to see the media cover this, instead of talking about Russian disinformation when this issue is discussed in print media and on television.

Mr. Chairman, I yield the floor.

Top image: Screenshot from Senator Chuck Grassley’s February 27 speech on the Senate floor.

About the Author(s)

Laura Belin

  • Grassley is no Biden

    Thanks for publishing the full transcript and video of Grassley’s response. The main points are that investigations on Hunter Biden’s massive foreign deals continue on many fronts, and that the FBI could have done their work years before the elections. As Bellin writes: “Clearly the FBI should have done more in the summer of 2020 to investigate Smirnov’s story.”

    Grassley did not remain silent at all, as some journalists were suggesting.

    Grassley also wrote and passed many whistleblower bill, starting in the 1980s. He cares that the obvious appearance of corruption of a Biden making millions in China and Ukraine deals be investigated promptly. His grandson Pat is a very effective politician.

    Compare Chuck with Joe Biden, who raised Hunter Biden and Commander.

    Commander was the Presidents dog. A German shepherd received as a present from his brother James, also investigated for corrruption (the brother not the dog). Wikipedia tells us: “Commander was involved in an eleventh biting incident on September 26. Commander also bit White House superintendent Dale Haney, who has taken responsibility for walking presidential dogs since the presidency of Richard Nixon, on September 13, 2023, in an incident that was photographed by a tourist and subsequently received media attention.
    On October 5, 2023, it was announced that Commander was moving out of the White House due to the numerous biting incidents.CNN later reported that there were at least 24 such events.”

    In Iowa, we have few dog owners like this. We do not think highly of them.

  • Argh. Such Grassley Gaslighting

    Thank you for holding Grassley’s feet to the fire. It’s infuriating to endure Grassley’s gaslighting, but you do it with a strong focus on the facts: what did he say; when did he say it; what did he know; when did he know it; and what did he do?

    Thank you for persisting.

  • Chuck "death-panels" Grassley strikes again

    surprised he didn’t play the Jewish international finance conspiracy card again…

    “Maria Bartiromo, Fox Business Network: “Do you believe George Soros is behind all of this, paying these people to get you and your colleagues in elevators or wherever they can get in your face?”

    Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa): “I have heard so many people believe that. I tend to believe it. I believe it fits in his attack mode that he has and how he uses his billions and billions of resources.””