DOJ names Jack Smith as special counsel to oversee Trump criminal investigations

Smith will oversee the department’s investigations into possible mishandling of classified documents and the key aspects of the department’s records at Mar-A-Lago, Trump’s presidential estate, on January 6th.

Garland stated during a press briefing that, “in light of recent advancements, such as the former president’s declaration of his candidacy for the upcoming election and the current president’s expressed desire to run, I have determined that it is in the best interest of the public to designate a special investigator.”

The appointment of a department’s commitment to independence and sensitivity in sensitive matters is underscored. It allows agents and prosecutors to continue their work guided solely by the indisputable facts and the law. It also enables them to work expeditiously.

In the upcoming Congress, following the Republicans’ acquisition of a majority in the House, Garland’s choice arrives three days subsequent to Trump’s declaration that he intends to seek re-election for the presidency.

I strongly believe that the Department can handle all investigations with integrity and normal processes. I also believe that appointing a Special Counsel at this time is the right thing to do. The extraordinary circumstances presented here demand the right choice to complete these matters in an urgent and fair manner, and I believe Mr. Smith is the right choice.

Smith’s profession as a district attorney

Smith has recently served as the chief prosecutor for the special court in The Hague, charged with adjudicating and investigating war crimes in Kosovo.

In 2010, he assumed the role of the public integrity division of the Justice Department. Prior to that, he transitioned to the International Criminal Court in 2008, overseeing all inquiries into wartime offenses carried out by the Office of the Prosecutor. In 1999, he became a member of the Justice Department as a deputy U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Smith stated in a press release issued subsequent to his public identification, “I plan to carry out the designated inquiries, and any legal actions that may arise from them, autonomously and in accordance with the esteemed customs of the Department of Justice.”

I will exercise independent judgement to thoroughly and quickly move forward investigations, dictating the law and the facts. I will not pause or watch investigations under my flag, and will ensure the pace of the investigations remains uninterrupted.

Trump opposes ongoing investigations

During his previous impeachment proceedings, he used language including “hunt,” “witch hunt,” and “hoax” to back his investigations. Trump addressed the special counsel appointment during an evening event at his resort in Mar-a-Lago, Florida on Friday.

He also ticked off various topics throughout the day, including naming figures within the Biden Administration, without announcing any specific action or planned response to the special counsel.

During Trump’s own presidency, special counsel Robert Mueller investigated possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential race.

Mueller indicted over 30 individuals and three corporations, yet Trump himself was not faced with charges, and Mueller failed to uncover any proof of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Stone, an informal longtime adviser to Trump, as well as Paul Manafort, Trump’s onetime chief campaign associate, secured guilty pleas or convictions from eight Trump associates.

Later, William Barr, the attorney general appointed by John Durham, the special counsel investigating possible wrongdoing in Russia and others by the FBI, was appointed by President Trump.

The attorney from the FBI, who admitted to altering an email to secure surveillance warrants against former Trump campaign adviser, pleaded guilty. Durham has only lost two cases brought to trial.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To explore further, please visit https://www.Npr.Org.