United States: an independent special prosecutor in charge of Donald Trump investigations
U.S. Justice Secretary Merrick Garland on Friday appointed an independent special prosecutor to oversee investigations targeting former President Donald Trump.
U.S. Justice Secretary Justice on Friday appointed an expert war crimes prosecutor “in the public interest” to independently investigate Donald Trump, three days after he declared his 2024 presidential candidacy.
Merrick Garland announced in a televised address that he had entrusted this extremely sensitive mission to Jack Smith, prosecutor based in The Hague, at the Special Court for Kosovo.
Given recent developments, including the former president's announcement of his candidacy for the next presidential election and the current president's intention to stand as a candidate, I have concluded that it was in the public interest for me to appoint a special prosecutor, he said.
Jack Smith immediately takes the helm of two separate investigations carried out for months by the federal justice: the first relates to the consequences of the presidential election of 2020, the second to the management by the ex-president of confidential documents supposed to be archived.
Attorney Smith, in a statement, immediately promised to act quickly, independently and thoroughly.
Knowing that Donald Trump should not fail to denounce politicized justice and a new witch hunt, Merrick Garland also insisted on the impartiality of the prosecutor.
As a prosecutor special, he will exercise his professional judgment independently in deciding whether there should be an indictment in either case, the attorney general said.
The first series of investigations entrusted to Jack Smith relate to Donald Trump's efforts to contest his defeat in the presidential election of 2020, until the assault led by his supporters on the Capitol on January 6, 2021 , when the victory of his Democratic rival Joe Biden was certified.
This sprawling investigation has already resulted in the indictment of nearly 900 people who directly participated in the violence.
But prosecutors have never ruled out looking at other actors. Every person who is criminally responsible for efforts to nullify the election will have to answer for their actions, Merrick Garland has said several times in the past.
The second investigation focuses on the White House Archives.
Leaving the presidency, Donald Trump took entire boxes of documents. However, a 1978 law obliges any American president to transmit all of his emails, letters and other working documents to the National Archives.
In January, he returned 15 document boxes. After examination, the federal police (FBI) estimated that he probably kept others in his luxurious residence in Mar-a-Lago, Florida.
FBI agents conducted a spectacular search there on August 8 on a warrant for withholding classified documents and obstructing a federal investigation, and seized about 30 other boxes.
An intense legal battle then ensued to determine the nature of the documents seized – classified, personal or declassified – which slowed down the procedure, but, again, a federal indictment remains possible.
In the past, Donald Trump has already been the subject of an investigation supervised by a special prosecutor: Robert Mueller was tasked in 2017 with establishing whether there had been collusion between his campaign team and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
After two years of investigation, he judged that he did not have enough evidence of a plot between Moscow and the Trump team, but noted a series of disturbing pressures exerted by the tenant of the White House on his investigation and said he was unable to clear him of suspicions of obstruction of justice .
The then-Justice Secretary, Republican Bill Barr, however, did not deem it necessary to prosecute him.
During his tenure, Donald Trump was also the target of two impeachment trials: one, for abuse of power, related to pressure exerted by the president on Ukraine so that 27; she gives him embarrassing elements for Joe Biden; the other for inciting insurrection in the attack on the Capitol. He was acquitted in both cases thanks to the Republican majority in the Senate.