You Vote: Was the DOJ right to appoint a special counsel to oversee its Trump probes?

The attorney general's decision has come under fire, with critics decrying the motive as political.

Updated: November 21, 2022 - 2:15pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Friday that he's appointing a special counsel for multiple Justice Department investigations involving former President Donald Trump.

Jack Smith, a former career Justice Department prosecutor and former chief prosecutor at The Hague, will oversee two ongoing criminal investigations.

The first is the investigation into whether any individual, Trump included, attempted to interfere unlawfully in the transfer of presidential power or the electoral certification process in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The second is the investigation into the documents the FBI seized from Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in August and any obstruction of justice charges that could stem from it.

Garland's announcement came three days after Trump launched his 2024 presidential campaign.

"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," said Garland. "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."

Trump blasted the appointment as the "politicization of justice" and said he "won't partake in it" in comments to Fox News Digital.

Observers were quick to similarly criticize Garland's decision, arguing there's inherent pressure on special counsels given their independence and narrow yet public mandate to obtain an indictment and conviction rather than just administer the law. Some noted a potential double standard as the Justice Department hasn't named a special counsel to oversee its ongoing investigation into President Biden's son, Hunter Biden.

What do you think? Was Garland's appointment necessary to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, or was it another sign of what critics have described as a politicized Justice Department? Here's your chance to weigh in:

Was Attorney General Merrick Garland right to appoint a special counsel to oversee two Justice Department investigations involving Donald Trump?

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