The former president called the new special counsel “political” and unacceptable
US Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday appointed John L. “Jack” Smith as special counsel to oversee the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation into former President Donald Trump. Smith will look at the January 6 Capitol riot, the alleged presence of classified documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, and anything potentially related. His most recent post was as war crimes prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
Announcing Smith’s appointment, Garland called him a “veteran career prosecutor” and said he will be authorized to prosecute “any federal crimes that may arise from those investigations.” The move comes just three days after Trump announced his 2024 presidential bid.
“I announce and then they appoint a special prosecutor,” Trump told Fox News Digital, reacting to Garland’s appointment. “I’m not going to partake in this.”
“For six years I have been going through this, and I am not going to go through it anymore,” the former US president said, calling it the “worst politicization of justice in our country.”
“I have been proven innocent for six years on everything — from fake impeachments to [Robert] Mueller who found no collusion, and now I have to do it more?” he added. “It is not acceptable. It is so unfair. It is so political.”
Mueller was tasked with investigating the Democrats’ claims of Trump’s “Russian collusion” in 2017, after the FBI Director James Comey – whom Trump fired – leaked his memos insinuating that the president was obstructing the investigation. Comey later openly campaigned for Democrats, as did most of Mueller’s prosecutorial team.
During Trump’s announcement on Tuesday, he denounced the “weaponization” of the FBI and the DOJ and called for “a top to bottom overhaul to clean out the festering rot and corruption” in Washington. Garland specifically brought up Trump running for president again to argue it is “in the public interest” to appoint another special counsel.
Before becoming chief prosecutor at the ICC, Smith headed the DOJ’s Public Integrity Office. Among the people he prosecuted for corruption was Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, a Republican. The US Supreme Court overturned that conviction in 2016.
The FBI raided Trump’s Florida residence in early August, claiming he had improperly taken classified government documents there. Democrats have also accused the former president of “inciting” the January 6, 2021 riot at the US Capitol, with many of them describing it as an “insurrection” in order to invoke a 150-year-old constitutional amendment that would bar him from office again.