BREAKING: DOJ Appoints Special Counsel for Trump Criminal Probes

( – HAPPENING NOW: This afternoon, United States Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to take over two existing criminal probes of former President Donald Trump and to determine if charges should be brought against Trump.

As the Washington Post characterizes what has happened:

“Attorney General Merrick Garland named a special counsel to oversee criminal probes of Donald Trump’s possible mishandling of classified documents at his Florida home, as well as key aspects of the sprawling Jan. 6 case — acknowledging the political sensitivity of investigating a former president who is again seeking office.

“Garland announced his decision Friday afternoon, tapping Jack Smith, a longtime federal prosecutor who has in recent years been working at the International Criminal Court at The Hague. The announcement comes three days after Trump formally declared himself a 2024 candidate for president.” [emphasis added]

In his statement announcing the appointment of Smith from a podium at the United States Department of Justice in Washinton, DC, 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…The extraordinary circumstances presented here demand it. Mr. Smith is the right choice to complete these matters in an even-handed and urgent manner.”

Smith, who was not present at the announcement, issued a statement saying:

“I intend to conduct the assigned investigations, and any prosecutions that may result from them, independently and in the best traditions of the Department of Justice. The pace of the investigations will not pause or flag under my watch. I will exercise independent judgement and will move the investigations forward expeditiously and thoroughly to whatever outcome the facts and the law dictate.”