EXCLUSIVE: Previous Target of DOJ’s Trump Legal Hit Squad Alleges Witness Payoff Scheme

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by CATHERINE SALGADO at pjmedia.com

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. 

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