A former war crimes prosecutor has been named special counsel to oversee the investigation into former U.S. President Donald Trump.
Career Attorney Jack Smith will investigate allegations of mishandling of classified documents at Trump’s Florida home and his Attack on the Capitol on January 6.
The appointment was announced by US Attorney General Merrick Garland, who said it was in the “public interest” Mr Trump’s announced his plans to run for the presidency again.
Mr. Garland’s Justice Department, which he was appointed by President Joe Biden to head, has been conducting the investigation for months.
The appointment of a special counsel is aimed at addressing Mr. Trump’s often vocal suspicions of political bias in the investigation.
In a news conference announcing the move, the attorney general said: “Based on recent developments, including the former president’s announcement of his candidacy for president, it is in the public interest to appoint a special counsel to independently manage the investigation and prosecution of the next election. , and the current president has also expressed interest in becoming a candidate.”
Mr Smith, most recently the ICC war crimes prosecutor in The Hague, will be involved in two main areas of the investigation.
One is to investigate whether anyone, including Mr. Trump, has illegally interfered with the transition of presidential power after the 2020 election, or evidence of the January 6, 2021 Electoral College vote in favor of President Biden.
Another highlight was Trump’s removal of hundreds of documents from the White House, which were transferred to his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida.
Mr Smith will examine whether the former president broke the law in handling classified documents and whether he obstructed justice by preventing access to them. He would eventually report his findings to Mr. Garland.
Mr. Garland said Mr. Smith, an experienced prosecutor who led the Justice Department’s public integrity unit in Washington and later served as acting chief U.S. attorney in Nashville, Tennessee, during the Obama administration, would begin “immediately.” his job.
The Justice Department described Mr. Smith as a registered independent in an effort to quell any attacks deemed politically biased.
“It’s unbelievable that they were allowed to do this,” Trump said of the appointment in an interview with Fox News Digital. “It’s the worst politicization of the judiciary in our country.”
“Hunter Biden was a criminal many times and nothing happened to him. Joe Biden was a criminal many times and nothing happened to them.
“It’s not fair to the country, it’s not fair to the Republican Party, and I don’t think people should accept it. I’m not going to accept it.”