DOJ appoints special counsel to oversee Trump criminal investigations
Attorney General Merrick Garland made the appointment three days after Trump declared his 2024 presidential campaign
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Friday the appointment of Jack Smith as special counsel to oversee the two Department of Justice criminal investigations into former President Donald Trump. The appointment was made three days after Trump officially declared his 2024 campaign for president.
The DOJ has an investigation looking into whether Trump unlawfully interfered with the transfer of power after the 2020 presidential election. A second investigation involves the possible mishandling of classified documents.
Garland said a special counsel is “in the public interest” due to Trump’s announcement that he will run for president in 2024 and considering President Joe Biden is saying that he intends to run for reelection as well, according to a public statement released by the DOJ. The attorney general also said the appointment will allow “prosecutors and agents to continue their work expeditiously, and to make decisions indisputably guided only by the facts and law.”
Garland did not indicate a timetable for the investigations, but he said the appointment of Smith will ensure the work is done “quickly and completely.” He continued, “Given the work done to date and Mr. Smith’s prosecutorial experience, I am confident that his appointment will not slow the completion of these investigations.”
Smith is a former career Justice Department prosecutor. At the time of his appointment, he was serving as the chief prosecutor for the special court in The Hague overseeing investigations into war crimes in Kosovo. Smith first joined the International Criminal Court after serving in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York for over nine years.
Previously, Smith served as acting U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee and chief of the Public Integrity Section of the DOJ that oversaw litigation of complex public corruption cases.
“Appointing a special counsel at this time is the right thing to do,” Garland said. “The extraordinary circumstances presented here demand it. Mr. Smith is the right choice to complete these matters in an even-handed and urgent manner.”