WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Merrick Garland named a special counsel on Friday to oversee the Justice Department’s investigation into the presence of classified documents at former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate as well as key aspects of a separate probe involving the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and efforts to undo the 2020 election.
Three days after Trump, the announcement was made. formally launched his 2024 candidacyThis is an acknowledgement of the obvious political implications of two investigations that not only involve a former president, but also a current White House hopeful.
Garland said Friday that Trump’s announcement of his presidential candidacy and President Joe Biden’s likely 2024 run were factors in his decision to appoint a special counsel. Garland Prosecutors would be able to continue their work with the appointment, he said. “indisputably guided” Only the facts and law will apply.
Though the appointment installs a new supervisor atop the probes — both of which are expected to accelerate now that the midterm elections are over — the special counsel will still report to GarlandIt is the defendant who decides whether to file charges.
The role will be filled by Jack Smith, a veteran prosecutor who led the Justice Department’s public integrity section in Washington and who later served as the acting chief federal prosecutor in Nashville, Tennessee, during the Obama administration. In recent years, he was the chief prosecutor at the Hague’s special court that investigates international war crimes.
Smith was described as a registered independent by the Justice Department, in an effort to minimize any accusation of perceived political bias.
“The extraordinary circumstances here demand it,” Garland
The special counsel’s probe will combine the investigation into “whether any person or entity unlawfully interfered with the transfer of power following the 2020 presidential election” and the investigation into the classified documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
Representatives of Trump, a Republican were not available to comment immediately.
The timing of the decision and no immediate reason were given. Garland has spoken repeatedly of his singular focus on the facts, the evidence and the law in the Justice Department’s decision-making and of his determination to restore political independence to the agency following the tumultuous years of the Trump administration.
There doesn’t seem to be a conflict as obvious as the one that led to the previous appointment of a special prosecutor to deal with Trump-related investigations. Robert Mueller, former FBI Director was named special counsel by Trump Justice Department. He will be leading the investigation into possible coordination of Russia and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.