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Who is special counsel Jack Smith, the war crimes prosecutor picked to investigate Trump?

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 11/18/2022 Jerry Dunleavy

Attorney General Merrick Garland selected Jack Smith, a war crimes prosecutor at The Hague, to be special counsel and investigate former President Donald Trump.

Garland announced during a Friday press conference at Main Justice that Smith, a decadeslong DOJ veteran prosecutor, had been appointed. Smith is currently chief prosecutor at The Hague, where he has investigated war crimes in Kosovo.

“Today, I signed an order appointing Jack Smith to serve as special counsel,” Garland said. “The order authorizes him to continue the ongoing investigations into both of the matters that I have just described, and to prosecute any federal crimes that may arise from those investigations.”

Garland added: “Given the work to-date and Mr. Smith’s prosecutorial experience, I am confident that this appointment will not slow the completion of these investigations. … Mr. Smith is the right choice to complete these matters in an even-handed and urgent manner.”

The DOJ announced that Smith had resigned from his most recent role as chief prosecutor for the special court in The Hague, where he had been tasked with investigating and adjudicating war crimes in Kosovo. Smith, a Harvard Law School graduate, had been appointed to that role in 2018, after a stint as vice president and head of litigation for the Hospital Corporation of America, where he had worked since late 2017. He had just been reappointed to a second four-year term as specialist prosecutor in May.

GARLAND APPOINTS JACK SMITH AS SPECIAL COUNSEL

Prosecutor Jack Smith presides before a war crimes court in the Hague on Nov. 9, 2020. Smith has been appointed special counsel by Merrick Garland in an investigation related to former President Donald Trump. (JERRY LAMPEN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) © Provided by Washington Examiner Prosecutor Jack Smith presides before a war crimes court in the Hague on Nov. 9, 2020. Smith has been appointed special counsel by Merrick Garland in an investigation related to former President Donald Trump. (JERRY LAMPEN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Smith has worked as a prosecutor during the Bush, Obama, Trump, and Biden administrations. He is reportedly registered as a political independent.

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

The specter of criminal charges against Trump reemerged after Trump declared a 2024 presidential bid on Tuesday night amid the backdrop of DOJ investigations related to the Capitol riot of Jan. 6, 2021, and whether sensitive documents were inappropriately taken by Trump to his Mar-a-Lago Florida resort.

Smith has assisted in the prosecutions of at least two Republican officials.

While chief of the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section, Smith helped with the prosecution against then-Gov. Bob McDonnell, who was indicted and convicted on federal corruption charges related to bribery in 2014. The Supreme Court unanimously overturned McDonnell’s conviction in 2016.

Smith’s unit also successfully prosecuted former Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ), who was convicted in 2013 for extortion, bribery, insurance fraud, money laundering, and racketeering. Renzi was pardoned by Trump on his last day in office.

The now-special counsel also helped convict former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling in 2015. The DOJ said, “Sterling disclosed classified information about a clandestine operational program concerning Iran’s nuclear weapons program to a New York Times reporter in 2003.”

Before his time as a war crimes prosecutor, Smith served as first assistant U.S. attorney and acting U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee from early 2015 to the summer of 2017, and he had been chief of the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section between 2010 and 2015, where he focused largely on corruption cases.

Smith had been the investigation coordinator for the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court from 2008 to 2010, where he oversaw investigations tied to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

He moved to the ICC after nine years as a prosecutor within the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, where, as chief of criminal litigation, he supervised approximately 100 criminal prosecutors. Smith had spent five years as an assistant district attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office beforehand.

The search warrant application cover sheet for the FBI's Mar-a-Lago search, unsealed in late August, provided more details on what the DOJ was looking for on Aug. 8 when it searched Trump’s Florida resort. The records showed Trump was being investigated under 18 U.S.C. 793, part of the Espionage Act, and said it was related to “willful retention of national defense information.” The record also pointed to 18 U.S.C. 2071, specifically the “concealment or removal” of government records, as well as 18 U.S.C. 1519, specifically related to “obstruction” of a federal investigation.

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The Electoral College cast votes on Dec. 14, 2020, with now-President Joe Biden receiving 306, while Trump received 232. The vote was certified by a congressional session presided over by then-Vice President Mike Pence, which finished hours after being disrupted by the Capitol riot. Trump wanted Pence to cite “dueling” electors and reject certifying Biden’s win, which Pence refused to do.

DOJ said earlier this month that roughly 900 people have been arrested related to the Capitol riot, including 278 defendants charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. Members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers have been hit with seditious conspiracy charges and have pleaded not guilty.

 

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Tags: Jack Smith, Donald Trump, Justice Department, Mar-a-Lago, January 6

Original Author: Jerry Dunleavy

Original Location: Who is special counsel Jack Smith, the war crimes prosecutor picked to investigate Trump?

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