WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump will be the subject of a second investigation by special counsel. 6 attack on the Capitol, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Friday.
“Based on recent developments, including Trump’s announcement that he is running for president in the next election, and the current president’s intent to run in the next election, I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint a special counsel. Garland said at a press conference.
Garland’s decision to appoint special counsel was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Garland said he signed a letter Friday morning formally appointing John L. Smith, known as Jack Smith, a district attorney in The Hague and a former federal prosecutor, to begin serving “immediately” as special counsel. Smith was previously head of the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section, where he oversaw public corruption and election-related investigations.
Smith must investigate whether anyone has broken the law in connection with attempts to “interfere with the lawful transition of power following the 2020 presidential election or the certification of the Electoral College vote on or about Jan. 6, 2021, as well as any matters arising directly from this investigation.” have arisen or may arise.” The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia will continue its investigation into those who stormed the U.S. Capitol.
Garland said Smith will also have in his portfolio “the ongoing investigation related to classified and other presidential documents” from the Trump White House “as well as the potential obstruction of that investigation.”
In remarks at a Friday night event at his Florida resort, Trump called Smith’s nomination “appalling” and “appalling abuse of power,” calling him a “super-radical left-wing special counsel.”
“This is a rigged deal,” Trump said of the probes, complaining that he had been “running these hoaxes, investigations, and scams since day one.”
“We are innocent,” he added.
Trump announced his 2024 presidential campaign this week. Since Garland was appointed by President Joe Biden, appointing a special counsel would give Garland more distance from the investigation of Trump, who could be Biden’s rival if the president decides to run for re-election.
“This is a totally expected political stunt from a dastardly, politicized, armed Biden Department of Justice,” a Trump campaign spokesman said in a statement.
After his appointment, Smith stressed in a statement that he will conduct an “independent” investigation. “I will make an independent judgment and proceed with the investigations promptly and thoroughly, regardless of the outcome dictated by the facts and the law,” he said.
Trump was previously under investigation by former special counsel Robert Mueller, who released his 2019 report on Russian interference in the 2020 election and Trump’s attempts to disrupt the Justice Department’s investigation.
Garland said he was confident in the DOJ’s ability to investigate Trump, but, “I also believe that appointing special counsel is the right thing to do at this time. The extraordinary circumstances presented here require that .”
Garland added that he will make sure Smith is “given the resources to do this job quickly and fully.”
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com