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.
Garland stated after the announcement that "Mr. Smith is the right choice to complete these matters in an even-handed and urgent manner."
According to CNBC, Smith will be in charge of the DOJ investigation to ascertain whether anyone, including Trump, tried to illegally sabotage the transition of power or the electoral certification procedure in relation with the commotion at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. He will also be in charge of the DOJ's investigation into any potential obstruction of justice charges related to the records the FBI took from Trump's Mar-a-Lago home.
The appointment comes in response to Trump's announcement on Tuesday night that he would run for president a third time in 2024.
According to CNN, department officials have been arguing for weeks whether or not to name a special counsel. A special counsel may help to protect the DOJ from accusations of political prosecution because Garland was a Biden appointee, which might theoretically give the appearance of one. Garland's selection of Smith reflected his response to such way of thinking.
"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."