On Friday, Attorney General Merrick Garland assigned a special counsel to conduct criminal investigations into former President Trump regarding January 6, 2021, and the national defense documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago home several months ago, CNN reported.
Former Justice Department official Jack Smith was assigned to oversee the investigations. Smith was the former chief prosecutor tasked with investigating war crimes in Kosovo.
In a Friday statement, Smith said he would “not pause or flag” the investigations but would move them forward “expeditiously and thoroughly.”
On August 8, the FBI raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and seized approximately 20 boxes of items containing 11 sets of documents, according to the property receipt.
The warrant issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart allowed the agency to confiscate “all physical documents and records constituting evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed.”
One set of seized documents was allegedly designated as “Various classified/TS/SCI documents,” meaning top secret/sensitive compartmented information.
Trump has previously stated that, during his presidency, he declassified the documents found in his Florida residence and that the probe is an example of the justice system being weaponized against him.
According to CNN, multiple sources have stated that the investigations intend to gather additional information and bring new witnesses before a federal grand jury who have not spoken to investigators previously. In addition, prosecutors have recently sent out subpoenas related to both the Mar-a-Lago and the January 6 investigations, with some return dates as early as next week.
Earlier this week, Trump announced that he will be running for president in the 2024 election.
In a press conference at the DOJ headquarters on Friday, 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.”
“Such an appointment underscores the Department’s commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters,” Garland added. “It also allows prosecutors and agents to continue their work expeditiously, and to make decisions indisputably guided only by the facts and the law.”