AG Garland names special counsel to oversee Trump Mar-a-Lago investigation
"Mr. Smith is the right choice to complete these matters in an even-handed and urgent matter."
Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday appointed former federal prosecutor Jack Smith to serve as special counsel and oversee the Justice Department's multiple investigations involving former President Donald Trump.
"Mr. Smith is the right choice to complete these matters in an even-handed and urgent matter," Garland said during the announcement.
Smith will oversee the DOJ investigation to determine whether any individual, Trump included, attempted to interfere unlawfully in the transfer of presidential power or the electoral certification process in connection with the chaos at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, per CNBC. He will also supervise the DOJ investigation into the documents the FBI seized from Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate and any obstruction of justice charges that could stem from it.
The appointment follows Trump's Tuesday evening announcement of a third presidential campaign to reclaim the White House in 2024.
Department officials have been debating for weeks whether to appoint a special counsel, CNN reported. Garland's status as a Biden appointee could conceivably create the appearance of a political prosecution and thus a special counsel may serve to somewhat insulate the DOJ from such criticisms. Garland addressed that line of thinking when appointing Smith.
"The Department of Justice has long recognized that in certain extraordinary cases it is in the public interest to appoint a special prosecutor to independently manage an investigation and prosecution," Garland said. "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."
The announcement comes one day after House Republicans said they'll hold investigation into the overseas business dealing of President Biden and his son Hunter Biden, when the GOP takes control of the chamber in January 2023. As Biden is likely to run for reelection, two of the main contenders will likely be under some form of federal investigation during the 2024 presidential cycle.