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Title: EXCLUSIVE: Previous Target of DOJís Trump Legal Hit Squad Alleges Witness Payoff Scheme
Source: [None]
URL Source: https://pjmedia.com/news-and-politi ... witness-payoff-scheme-n1704481
Published: Jun 20, 2023
Author: CATHERINE SALGADO
Post Date: 2023-06-20 10:20:00 by Ada
Keywords: None
Views: 21

Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith is overseeing the current investigation into and indictment of Donald Trump. But as USA Today reported, Smith “built [his] reputation” in his previous role overseeing the prosecution of former Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.). And according to Renzi himself, in exclusive comments to PJ Media, there’s evidence tying Smith to illegal wiretaps, jury influencing, payoffs for false testimony, and other highly questionable behavior. The newly published allegations led Donald Trump to call Smith “deranged.”

Renzi was convicted on bribery and extortion charges, to which he pleaded “not guilty,” and was later given a full presidential pardon by Trump. While a 2019 complaint and request for investigation filed on Renzi’s behalf by respected legal firm Mayer Brown claim to provide evidence of prosecutorial misconduct, current Trump prosecutors Jack Smith and David Harbach were more directly implicated in the misconduct allegations—including a reported government payoff offer—than previously revealed.

The alleged prosecutorial misconduct of Smith and his team, both from the DOJ and FBI, included illegal wiretaps, concealment of exculpatory evidence and impeachment evidence, destruction of evidence, and introduction of false testimony before and during Renzi’s trial. “The prosecutorial misconduct of Jack Smith and his lead prosecutor in my case, David Harbach, is what led to the presidential pardon” Trump gave him, the former congressman told PJ Media. He explained how he believes Smith and Harbach “tainted” his jury pool while working to exclude pro- life jurors since Renzi is a pro-life father of twelve.

But Renzi had an even more explosive accusation to share, based on information his lawyers told him. Renzi said that “what Jack Smith and Harbach are known for is that they’ll provide some sort of a secret incentive, some sort of a pay-off scheme… to cooperating witnesses in order to get them not just to flip on the defendant, but also to spin a tale.”

The evidence provided in the Mayer Brown filings showed Assistant U.S. Attorney in Arizona (AUSA) Gary Restaino and his team, who were working under Smith and Harbach, “repeatedly engaged in witness manipulation by inducing key witness, Phillip Aries, to change his testimony to match the false narrative contained in ‘Operation Eagle.'”

The payoff could have been, according to Aries himself at a later date, $10,000 or “as much as $25,000, like winning the lottery,” Renzi explained, which echoes his legal filings. The former congressman told PJ Media that Aries was going through “a divorce” and “bankruptcy,” meaning he was vulnerable to a monetary offer. There was a “secret slush fund at the Department of Justice” for the payoff, Renzi said.

But according to Renzi, it wasn’t just a member or members of Smith’s team who offered Aries a payoff under Smith’s watch. Renzi made the bombshell allegation to PJ Media based on what his lawyers told him: that Jack Smith not only knew about the payoff offer but personally approved it. “According to my attorneys, [Smith] actually approved and helped with the [payoff] offer—that’s all on him,” Renzi explained. If true, that makes Smith directly culpable in offering to bribe a witness to provide false testimony. Smith and his team (including Harbach) “knowingly sponsored false testimony to the jury,” Renzi said.

Renzi’s website, Abuse of Power, details “Operation Eagle,” based on the evidence filed in 2019 by Mayer Brown’s Kelly Kramer:

The government investigation was driven by a fabricated dossier procured by the former President of Resolution Copper Company (a foreign-owned mining company) Bruno Hegner (a South African citizen) and Democratic lobbyist Ron Ober who together hired former FBI agent Jim Elroy to launch a covert plot which they code-named “Operation Eagle” to target Mr. Renzi in a blatant political “hit job.” Although the allegations in the dossier were false, the scheme was handed off to the politically- driven AUSA Gary Restaino, a staunch partisan Democrat whose wife was Arizona’s then-Governor Janet Napolitano’s [D] General Counsel.

Kramer describes Napolitano as one of Renzi’s “fiercest political rivals” in the state of Arizona, who was also involved politically with “Resolution’s land-exchange proposals.” Kramer further wrote that Restaino eventually admitted the existence of FBI records showing the FBI had told Aries multiple times he would have to pay taxes on any potential rewards for cooperation. As noted in my previous piece, Mayer Brown, the legal firm that filed these accusations, is a Democrat firm. They weren’t assisting Republican Renzi by exposing the prosecutorial misconduct for political reasons.

What’s particularly relevant about this evidence of Smith’s alleged payoff offer to a witness is that the DOJ reportedly tried to influence a potential witness and his lawyers in the ongoing Trump investigation, which is under Smith’s supervision. In this case, however, the DOJ reportedly didn’t try to incentivize them with money, but with a seeming threat or warning. The Guardian reported on June 8 on an allegation from attorney Stanley Woodward, lawyer to Trump’s valet and co-defendant Walt Nauta:

The lawyer for Donald Trump’s valet, under scrutiny in the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation, has submitted court papers describing a meeting at which a top federal prosecutor brought up his application to be a judge when they tried to gain the valet’s cooperation last year, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The Guardian explained that the prosecutor’s raising the subject “in the context of trying to persuade a lawyer for a witness to recommend cooperating could give the appearance of coercion.” As noted above, Renzi told me that Smith and Harbach are “known for” incentivizing potential witnesses in some way. Woodward’s claims could confirm the alleged pattern in the Donald Trump and Walt Nauta cases.

Renzi told me that the government team had promised him a shorter jail sentence and fewer felony charges if he pled guilty, which he refused to do. He argued that Jack Smith and his team try to incentivize a defendant to admit guilt and target the defendant even more harshly if he doesn’t comply.

Mayer Brown’s Kramer wrote in 2019, before sharing the evidence of prosecutorial misconduct, “In my view, the government’s misconduct not only deprived Mr. Renzi of his constitutional right to a fair trial, but it allowed the jury to convict an innocent man.”

As Renzi said, Smith and his prosecutors have a history of using a “two- tiered system” of justice. With the newly revealed allegations tying Jack Smith and David Harbach directly to the misconduct, especially Smith, whose current target is Donald Trump, this seems more dangerous. If Jack Smith really did approve a payoff to alter witness testimony, as Renzi claims, and if he oversaw politically fueled jury influencing and illegal wiretaps, the same prosecutorial misconduct could occur against President Donald Trump.

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