Jack Smith, appointed by the Justice Department to investigate — and subsequently charge — President Joe Biden’s primary rival for the Oval Office next year — once had a serious run-in with the highest-ranking federal judge in the country.
That would be U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
As noted by the Washington Times, Smith ran the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section during the Obama administration, often “relies on ethically dubious tactics, including media leaks and enticing witnesses, say those who have been caught in his snare,” the Washington Times reported.
During his tenure, he led a team of 30 federal prosecutors who looked into allegations of public corruption, the Times reported, adding that Smith and others, some of whom are currently working on former President Donald Trump’s classified documents case, “have followed a familiar playbook.”
The Times added: “The script earned Mr. Smith a reputation as a hard-driving, intense prosecutor, but a string of mistrials and overturned convictions led to sharp rebukes from federal judges, including U.S. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.”
Former Rep. Rick Renzi, an Arizona Republican who was convicted by Smith and his team on corruption and fraud charges in 2013, told the outlet, “These are no white knights. They are very dangerous and will use any tactics to win at all costs.”
Renzi maintained his innocence, but he nevertheless served nearly two years in prison before receiving a pardon from Trump in 2021. He attributes the successful pardon to a comprehensive 190-page white paper submitted by his legal team to the Justice Department. The document outlined allegations of “repeated, concealed, and corrosive” misconduct by the prosecutors involved in his case, the Times said.
Renzi noted that he was stunned by the similarities with his case that he sees in the prosecution of Trump.
The Times reports:
Mr. Trump was charged with 37 felony counts, including willful retention of national defense information, obstruction and false statements. Walt Nauta, an aide to the former president, has also been indicted in the investigation.
A review found that Mr. Smith’s team followed the same playbook in the Trump case as in other high-stakes political prosecutions of both Republicans and Democrats. That playbook has resulted in a spotty record.
Here is a sampling, per the Times:
— The Supreme Court overturned the conviction of former Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, a Republican who had been accused of accepting payments and gifts in violation of federal public corruption laws, in a landmark decision.
In that decision, Roberts said in the high court’s unanimous decision: “There is no doubt that this case is distasteful; it may be worse than that. But our concern is not with tawdry tales of Ferraris, Rolexes, and ball gowns. It is instead with the broader legal implications of the Government’s boundless interpretation of the federal bribery statute.”
— The trial involving former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, a Democratic presidential candidate accused of unlawfully utilizing campaign funds to hide his affair and illegitimate child, resulted in a hung jury and subsequently declared a mistrial.
— The case involving Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat accused of taking bribes, also ended in a mistrial.
— The federal corruption charges that led to the conviction of the now-late New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, were overturned by an appeals court. Although he had been found guilty in a second trial, the appeals court nullified three out of the six guilty verdicts.
“Government lawyers have a higher duty to the truth and cause of justice, and that’s where some of these government prosecutors, like Mr. Smith, have fallen short,” McDonnell told the Times. “They are smart and well-credentialed, but they don’t seem to be exercising good judgment when it comes to this point.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland has defended Smith — whom he appointed — as a “veteran career prosecutor.”