Merrick Garland Names Special Counsel In Trump Cases

November 18, 2022

Attorney General Merrick Garland said Friday he has appointed veteran career prosecutor Jack Smith as special counsel to determine whether criminal charges should be filed against former President Trump in two separate pending investigations.

One case is focused on whether Trump broke the law and obstructed justice in the removal and transporting of hundreds of documents from the White House to his Florida country club residence, Mar-a-Lago. 

The second case centers on Trump’s involvement in the January 6, 2021 deadly insurrection on the U.S. Capitol and the plot to overturn the 2020 Presidential election.

Smith has had an extensive prosecutorial career, according to Garland. He began in 1994 as an Assistant District Attorney with the New York County DA’s Office. Most recently, Smith has been serving as chief prosecutor for the Special Court in The Hague, charged with investigating and adjudicating war crimes in Kosovo. 

Smith will be returning to the United States from The Hague, Garland said, and will begin his work as special counsel immediately.

Thoughout his career, Smith as served as an “impartial and determined prosecutor who leads teams with energy and focus to follow the facts wherever they lead,” Garland said. “As special counsel he will exercise independent prosecutorial judgment to decide whether charges should be brought.”

Garland added that the special counsel will not be subject to the day-to-day supervision of any official within the DOJ; however, “he must comply with the regulations, procedures and policies of the Department.”

Garland’s appointment of Smith as special counsel could tamp down any concerns that Garland has a conflict of interest, were he the one to decide whether Trump should be prosecuted. Garland was appointed Attorney General by President Biden, who defeated Trump in his bid for reelection in 2020.

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