WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Merrick Garland has named a special counsel to oversee the Justice Department’s investigation into the presence of classified documents at former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate and aspects of a separate probe involving the Jan. 6 insurrection and efforts to undo the election.
The role will be filled by Jack Smith, a veteran prosecutor who led the Justice Department’s public integrity section in Washington and later served as the acting chief federal prosecutor in Nashville, Tennessee.
The move Friday was announced just three days after Trump announced his 2024 candidacy.
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It’s a recognition of the unmistakable political implications of two investigations that involve not only a former president but also a current White House hopeful.
Garland said Friday that Trump’s announcement of his presidential candidacy and President Joe Biden’s likely 2024 run were factors in his decision. A Trump spokesperson calls it a “political stunt.”
Though the appointment installs a new supervisor atop the probes the special counsel will still report to Garland, who has ultimate say of whether to bring charges.