Attorney General Merrick Garland announced he is appointing a special counsel to handle two important investigations involving former President Donald Trump. The appointment comes three days after Trump announced he’s running for reelection in 2024.
Garland is appointing veteran career prosecutor Jack Smith who most recently led the team in The Hague prosecuting war crimes in Kosovo. Smith will return to the United States from The Hague for this investigation.
“Based on recent developments, including the former president’s announcement that he is a candidate for president in the next election, and the sitting president’s stated intention to be a candidate as well, I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint a special counsel,” said Attorney General Garland. “Such an appointment underscores the department’s commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters. It also allows prosecutors and agents to continue their work expeditiously, and to make decisions indisputably guided only by the facts and the law.”
Officially, Smith will be handling two cases. The first is whether any person or entity unlawfully interfered with the transfer of power following the 2020 presidential election or the certification of the Electoral College vote held on or about Jan. 6, 2021. The second is the ongoing investigation involving classified documents and other presidential records, as well as the possible obstruction of that investigation.
Smith is not handling investigations into the Jan. 6 riot, or the violence, damage and injuries as a result of that.
“Although the special counsel will not be subject to the day-to-day supervision of any official of the department, he must comply with the regulations, procedures, and policies of the department. I will ensure that the special counsel receives the resources to conduct this work quickly and completely,” Garland said when announcing the appointment.