UPDATE: Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Jack Smith as special counsel to oversee investigations into Donald Trump.
Citing Trump’s recently announced presidential bid and Joe Biden’s intention to run for reelection, Garland said, “I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint a special counsel.”
“Such an appointment underscores the Department’s commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters,” Garland said. “It also allows prosecutors and agents to continue their work expeditiously, and to make decisions indisputably guided only by the facts and the law.”
Smith has worked as a federal and state prosecutor and war crimes prosecutor. He is currently specialist prosecutor in The Hague, The Netherlands, but has resigned that post.
Garland said that Smith will have independent prosecutorial judgement to determine whether charges should be brought.
“I am confident that this appointment will not slow the completion of these investigations,” he said.
Smith will oversee two investigations: Whether any person interfered with the transfer of power following the 2020 presidential election and the certification of the electoral vote on January 6. The other investigation involves Trump’s handling and possession of classified documents and presidential records and the potential obstruction of the investigation.
PREVIOUSLY, 11:06 AM: Attorney General Merrick Garland plans to announce the appointment of a special counsel to handle investigations into Donald Trump’s handling of classified material at Mar-a-Lago as well as a probe into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The Associated Press and other outlets reported that Garland plans to made the announcement on Friday afternoon. The appointment of a special counsel comes just days after Trump launched his 2024 presidential campaign, with the former president having already attacked the ongoing DOJ investigations as politically motivated.
In August, the FBI seized materials at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate that were marked as classified. That followed National Archives’ efforts to secure the return of the documents, which Trump brought with him at the end of his presidency. According to the National Archives, the documents are the property of the U.S. government, not Trump, under the terms of the Presidential Records Act. The DOJ also is investigating obstruction of the investigation.
The Justice Department also has been conducting an investigation of the events that led to the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, including efforts to install a slate of alternate electors favorable to Trump.
The special counsel would still report to Garland, according to the AP.
More to come.