Washington (AP) — 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.
The move was announced just three days after Trump. Officially launching 2024 candidacyis an acknowledgment of the undeniable political impact of two investigations involving not only former presidents, but current White House hopefuls.
Garland said on Friday that President Trump’s announcement of his candidacy for president and the possibility of President Joe Biden running in 2024 were factors in the decision to appoint a special counsel. Officials said they could continue their work “indisputably guided” only by facts and law.
The appointment puts a new overseer on top of the investigation, but while both investigations are expected to accelerate now that the midterm elections are over, the special counsel will still make the final decision on whether to file charges. I will report to Garland who has the right.
The role will be taken by veteran prosecutor Jack Smith, who headed the Public Interest Division of the Justice Department in Washington and later served as acting U.S. prosecutor in Nashville, Tennessee, during the Obama administration. Most recently, he served as Chief Prosecutor at the Hague Special Court, which is responsible for investigating international war crimes.
The Department of Justice registered Smith as an independent, explaining that it is trying to blunt attacks of political bias.
“The extraordinary circumstances here require it,” Garland said of the appointment.
The special counsel’s investigation combined an investigation into “individuals or entities that illegally interfered with the transition of power following the 2020 presidential election” and classified documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.
A representative for Trump, who is a Republican, did not immediately return a message requesting comment.
No direct reasons were provided for the decision or its timing. Garland has repeatedly spoken of his singular focus on facts, evidence and law in the Justice Department’s decision-making and his determination to restore political independence to the Justice Department following a turbulent year in the Trump administration.
And there doesn’t seem to be any apparent conflict like there was when a special counsel in charge of Trump-related investigations was last appointed. The Trump Justice Department has named former FBI Director Robert Mueller as the special counsel to lead an investigation into potential coordination between Russia and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.