Washington, Nov 18 (EFE).- The attorney general of the United States announced Friday the appointment of a special counsel to handle the Department of Justice’s two ongoing criminal investigations of matters involving former President Donald Trump.
“The first,” Merrick Garland told a news conference at DoJ headquarters in Washington, “is the investigation into whether any person or entity unlawfully interfered with the transfer of power following the 2020 presidential election or the certification of the Electoral College vote held on or about Jan. 6, 2021.”
On that day, supporters of then-President Trump invaded the Capitol as Congress was meeting to certify Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the November 2020 presidential election.
The second probe to be overseen by the special counsel involves the classified documents seized by the FBI from Trump’s residence at his private club in Florida, Mar-a-Lago, Garland said.
“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,” the attorney general 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,” Garland said.
Trump launched his 2024 presidential bid on Tuesday, while incumbent Joe Biden said last week that he intends to seek re-election.
The special counsel, career prosecutor Jack Smith, will handle the aspects of the Jan. 6 investigation not relating to potential “prosecutions of individuals for offenses committed while they were physically present on the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6,” Garland said.
“The special counsel will also conduct the investigation involving classified documents and other presidential records, as well as the possible obstruction of that investigation,” the attorney general said.
Smith, who led DoJ’s Public Integrity Section from 2010-2015, will begin the assignment on his return to the US from The Hague, where he has been working as chief prosecutor for the special court investigating war crimes in Kosovo.
“Given the work done to date and Mr. Smith’s prosecutorial experience, I am confident that this appointment will not slow the completion of these investigations,” Garland said.
Though the special counsel is not subject to supervision by DoJ officials, the attorney general will have the final say on bringing charges.
Trump, whose presidency was marked by a lengthy special-counsel probe of possible collusion between his 2016 election campaign and the Russian government, said that he would not “partake” in the new inquiry.
“I have been going through this for six years – for six years I have been going through this, and I am not going to go through it anymore,” he told Fox News Digital. “And I hope the Republicans have the courage to fight this.”
“I have been proven innocent for six years on everything – from fake impeachments to (special counsel Robert) Mueller, who found no collusion, and now I have to do it more?,” Trump said. “It is not acceptable. It is so unfair. It is so political.”
The White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said that Biden did not know of Garland’s plan to name a special counsel for the Trump investigations.
“He was not aware, we were not aware. We were not given any advanced notice,” she said. EFE aaca-ssa/dr