Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday Appointed a special prosecutor To oversee criminal investigations into the retention of national security information by former presidents Donald TrumpMar-a-Lago Resort and parts of the January 6, 2021 Rebellion.
Both hearings refer to Trump’s behavior on Tuesday He announced his candidacy In the 2024 presidential election, making him a potential challenger to President Joe Biden.
“Based on recent developments including the announcement of the former president as a presidential candidate in the next election and the fact that the current president should also be a candidate, I have come to the conclusion that a special president should be appointed in the public interest. counsel,” Garland said at the Justice Department on Friday.
Jack SmithThe former chief prosecutor of the Special Court in The Hague, which tried war crimes in Kosovo, will oversee the investigations.
Smith “has built a reputation as an impartial and tenacious attorney,” Garland said.
Trump has sought to portray the investigations as politically motivated, including in his Tuesday presidential announcement, where he said he was a victim of the “weaponization” of the justice system.
Speaking at the America First gala at Mar-a-Lago on Friday night, the former president called the special counsel’s appointment a “terrible announcement” and a “terrible abuse of power.”
The Mar-a-Lago investigation burst into the public eye when the FBI executed a search warrant at Trump’s Florida resort in August. Trump went to court to seek an order to have a third attorney review the items seized in the search. Documents marked classified were excluded from that review by the appeals court, allowing them to be used in a criminal trial. Investigators have brought witnesses before a federal grand jury in DC in the investigation.
Prosecutions against those who physically violated the US Capitol are the most public aspect of the Justice Department’s January 6 hearing and will be under the jurisdiction of the US Attorney’s Office in Washington, DC. But behind the scenes, prosecutors have subpoenaed dozens of witnesses close to the former president for documents and testimony in the trial.
“I intend to conduct the classified hearings, and any litigation that may result from them, independently and in the best traditions of the judiciary,” Smith said in a statement Friday. “The pace of investigations will not pause or flag under my watch. I will exercise independent judgment and move investigations swiftly and thoroughly to whatever conclusions the facts and law dictate.”
Both the Mar-a-Lago investigation and the Jan. 6 hearing surrounding Trump are aimed at gathering more information and bringing witnesses before a federal grand jury in the coming weeks, according to multiple sources. Prosecutors have sent out several new subpoenas related to the two hearings in recent days, with return dates as early as next week.
According to some sources, some of the witnesses prosecuted in this round have never spoken to investigators in these cases before.
Several people in Trump’s orbit believed the investigation had been delayed or stalled because they had not heard from the Justice Department for weeks after meeting their subpoenaed document deadline, multiple sources said.
Some of the subpoenas issued in the investigation hinted at a broader investigation that touched almost every aspect of efforts to overturn Biden’s election victory. Investigators were interested in a conspiracy to push voter fraud in states won by Biden, and they identified the work done by Trump associates to push baseless election fraud claims and how money flowed to support those various efforts.
Trump’s team has been discussing the possibility of appointing a special counsel to the Justice Department in recent days, multiple sources familiar with the negotiations told CNN.
Trump’s lawyers had been dreading the prospect, worried it could drag out the trial, which they have continued to fight in court. Trump has complained about the matter, compared to former special counsel Robert Mueller, who oversaw the Russia investigation.
The former president on Friday indicated that he believed federal investigations into Garland had slowed or ended until Garland’s announcement. He repeatedly called the hearings political, said it wasn’t a fair situation and wouldn’t be a fair hearing, telling the crowd at Mar-a-Lago, “You’re really going to say enough is enough.”
Justice officials had been debating for weeks whether to appoint a special prosecutor. CNN previously reported.
This story has been updated with additional details.