AG Garland names special counsel to handle Trump cases (and Trump responds)

Source: Hot Air

Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed a special counsel to handle two investigations into Donald Trump, one involving Jan. 6 and the other involving classified documents kept at Mar-a-Lago.

“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 in a statement. “Such an appointment underscores the Department’s commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters. It also allows prosecutors and agents to continue their work expeditiously, and to make decisions indisputably guided only by the facts and the law.”

The special counsel’s purview will include the Justice Department’s ongoing probe of Trump’s alleged retention of highly sensitive national security secrets at his Mar-a-Lago estate, as well as aspects of the effort by Trump and his allies’ effort to subvert the 2020 election and disrupt the transition of power to President Joe Biden…

Garland’s announcement came just hours after he signed a formal order tapping Smith for the post. Smith, a 1994 Harvard Law School graduate, led the department’s public integrity section for five years during the Obama administration before taking on a position at the U.S. attorney’s office in the Middle District of Tennessee.

The NY Times frames this as an attempt by the DOJ to avoid criticism of the investigation as politically motivated and also as a “familiar dynamic” for former President Trump:

For Mr. Trump, it will be a return to a familiar dynamic. The first half of his term he faced a special counsel investigation led by Robert S. Mueller III into the nature of myriad links between his 2016 campaign and Russia at a time when Moscow was carrying out a covert effort to help him win that election, and into whether Mr. Trump had obstructed justice.

Mr. Trump’s supporters have already accused the Biden-era Justice Department of investigating Mr. Trump for political reasons, and some Republicans have floated the idea of impeaching Mr. Garland if he pursues charges against the former president. That tension will only become more pronounced now that Mr. Trump is a candidate for president again.

The department has “a true conflict of interest, real or perceived,” said Claire Finkelstein, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the founder of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law. “Garland won’t be running for president, but his direct boss will be. It would be difficult to put measures in place that would reassure people that the Justice Department was acting with independence on the Trump investigation.”

So what does this mean? Well, it’s worth noting that Garland was under some pressure from the left to fish or cut bait:

So you have to wonder if this appointment doesn’t have a lot to do with trying to sidestep a decision which was bound to anger one side or the other. If he hoped this appointment would solve that problem I’m not sure it’s working.

Another take:

And from the left:

The idea that this is an unnecessary delay is very popular on the left:

Keep that in mind as you read Smith’s first statement about his investigations. “The pace of the investigations will not pause or flag under my watch.”

So there are lots of people upset about this for very different reasons. The one thing they have in common is not being fans of Merrick Garland. Finally, here’s President Trump’s immediate reaction to the announcement.

Former President Donald Trump blasted the Justice Department’s appointment of a special counsel to take over investigations related to presidential records and Jan. 6, telling Fox News he “won’t partake in it” and calling it “the worst politicization of justice in our country,” while urging the Republican Party to take action.

“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,” Trump told Fox News Digital in an exclusive interview Friday shortly after the announcement. “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 [former 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.”

“I am not going to partake in it,” Trump told Fox News Digital. “I’m not going to partake in this.”

So it sounds like Jack Smith won’t be getting a lot of cooperation from Trump. Jonathan Turley points out that Smith probably won’t go directly to Trump anyway.