Washington – Attorney General Merrick Garland Appointed a special prosecutor Friday to oversee the Justice Department investigation confidential document Key aspects of another investigation involving the Jan. 6, 2021 riots and efforts to cancel the 2020 election at former President Donald Trump’s Florida mansion.
Appointment of veteran prosecutor Jack Smith announced just three days after Trump Officially launching 2024 candidacyis a recognition of the undeniable political ramifications of two investigations involving not only former presidents but also current White House hopefuls. establish a new chain of command for all investigations.
“The Justice Department has long recognized that in certain extraordinary cases, it is in the public interest to appoint a special counsel to independently manage investigations and prosecutions,” Garland said on the Justice Department podium. spoke from
Trump covered the news at a gala at the America First Policy Institute in Mar-a-Lago on Friday night, declaring, “Today’s decision by the deeply corrupt Biden administration and their weaponized Justice Department. A horrifying announcement,” he said.
He called it a “horrible abuse of power” and “the latest in a long string of witch-hunts”, claiming that he had “done nothing wrong.”
Smith, who headed the Justice Department’s public interest division in Washington during the Obama administration and later served as acting federal prosecutor in Nashville, Tennessee, is set to begin work soon, Garland said. Since 2018, he has been Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court in The Hague, Netherlands, tasked with investigating international war crimes.
The Justice Department has registered Smith as an independent, explaining that it is trying to blunt attacks of political bias.Trump is Republican, Biden is Democrat.
“Throughout his career, Jack Smith has built a reputation as an impartial and determined prosecutor who leads teams with fact-seeking energy and focus,” Garland said. We will use the judgment of an independent prosecutor to determine whether.”
“The extraordinary circumstances here require it,” Garland said of the appointment.
In a statement issued by the Justice Department, Smith said he intended to conduct his work independently and “within the highest traditions of the Justice Department.”
“The pace of the investigation will not pause or flag under my oversight,” he vowed.
As Special Counsel, Mr. Smith will take over two ongoing investigations. One concerns possible interference with the transition of power after the 2020 presidential election, with Trump’s allies vying for ways to reverse the election results. Contest Biden wonAnother concerns the storage of classified documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.
The Mar-a-Lago investigation has escalated particularly quickly, with prosecutors this month granting immunity to a close ally of Trump to secure his testimony before a federal grand jury. Various witnesses were interviewed and court filings raised legal concerns over the presence of top-secret materials in Mar-a-Lago despite strict procedures governing the handling of classified information. I am listing. They also claim they are trying to sabotage the investigation.
As a special counsel, Mr. Smith will be empowered to decide whether to bring charges as part of an investigation and to prosecute crimes he uncovers. As Attorney General, Garland will retain final oversight of his work, but emphasized the independent decision-making Smith brings to the job.
Given how much focus Garland has placed on securing public trust in his own prosecutor after the turbulent years of the Trump administration, he chose someone from outside the department for the role of special counsel. It is worth noting that You can trust our decisions because they are based on facts, evidence and law.
And there doesn’t seem to be any apparent conflict like the last time a special counsel was appointed to oversee Trump-related investigations.
In 2017, the Trump Justice Department named former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel. Potential coordination between Russia and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaignthe perception of the conflict inherent in investigating a president who controls the executive branch.
Mueller declined to make a determination on whether Trump criminally obstructed justice, citing the Justice Department’s longstanding policy against indicting a sitting president. As a former president, Trump will no longer have that protection.
The role of special counsel is the latest in a string of prosecutor positions for Smith, who earlier in his career was an assistant district attorney in New York and later entered the Justice Department.
Lanny Breuer, who headed the department’s criminal division when Smith was in charge of the public interest, called Smith “a great attorney and a great prosecutor.”
“He’s not political at all,” Breuer said. “He’s right in the middle.”
Smith grew up in upstate New York and graduated from Harvard Law School. He told the Associated Press in 2010 that he sees the prosecutor’s role as serving his parents and others who grew up in the town of Clay.
“They pay their taxes, follow the rules and expect the same from their civil servants,” he said at the time.
He returned to the Justice Department at the time, overseeing the then-troubled Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department.
During his tenure, his unit filed a series of high-profile lawsuits against elected officials from both parties. Not all were successful, and not all investigations led to criminal charges — a powerful lesson, Smith told his AP.
If there isn’t enough evidence to file a lawsuit, “if it’s not there, you have to admit it’s not there,” Smith said. “I think it’s hard for people to do, but after 15 years as a public prosecutor, I can do it.”
Associated Press writers Jill Colvin, Colleen Long, Zeke Miller, and Norman Merchant contributed to this report.
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