Who is the special counsel Jack Smith appointed in the Trump investigation?


Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday announced the appointment of special counsel Jack Smith to oversee investigations into former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. ) Resorts and parts of the January 6, 2021 uprising keep confidential documents for criminal investigation. A prosecutor who has overseen a variety of high-profile cases over a decades-long career.

Smith’s experience has ranged from prosecuting a sitting U.S. senator to prosecuting a gang member who was ultimately convicted of murdering a New York City police officer. In recent years, Smith has been prosecuted for war crimes in The Hague. His career at various parts of the Justice Department, as well as at the International Court of Justice, has allowed him to maintain a relatively low profile in the often tumultuous legal industry.

His experience and resume will allow him (at least initially) to fly through the kind of political backlash that quickly ran into former special counsel Robert Mueller’s team. It also demonstrates his adeptness at handling complex criminal cases related to public corruption and national security, and his practical experience in making challenging decisions with political implications.

Smith is widely expected to be tasked with making policy decisions on whether to charge the former U.S. president. Garland’s statement on Friday and the recent steps taken in the Mar-a-Lago and Jan. 6 investigations suggest that at least Donald Trump is under investigation and may be charged with a crime.

“He knows how to handle high-profile cases. He’s independent. He’s not influenced by anyone,” said Greg Andres, a former member of Mueller’s team.

Andres, who has known Smith since the late 1990s, when they worked together in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and eventually became co-head of the office’s criminal division, said it was the breadth of Smith’s experience that allowed him to withstand public scrutiny and Get tough on the judgment call.

“He will evaluate the evidence and understand what type of cases should be prosecuted or not prosecuted. He has experience making those judgments,” Andres said.

“He knows the courts. He knows how to try a case. He knows how to prove a case,” he added. “Especially in these cases, it’s critical to understand what types of evidence are needed to prove a case in court.”

In a statement after his announcement, Smith pledged to conduct the investigation “independently and in accordance with the best traditions of the Justice Department.”

“The pace of the investigation will not be halted or halted under my watch. I will exercise independent judgment and will move the investigation forward swiftly and thoroughly, regardless of what the facts and the law dictate,” Smith said.

A former associate stressed that Smith had sued members of both parties.

“He would get very aggressive,” the person said, adding that “things would speed up.” They said Smith “moved very quickly” and had a unique ability to quickly determine what was important to the case , and don’t waste time “scraping your brains for the real sideshow thing”.

In court, Smith was very down-to-earth and approachable, which he considers to be a good quality for a prosecutor, the person said.

Smith would also not care about the politics surrounding the case, they said, adding that he has a thick skin and will “do what he wants.”

Smith began his career as an Assistant District Attorney in 1994 with the New York County District Attorney’s Office. He worked in the Eastern District of New York in 1999 as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, where he prosecuted cases including civil rights violations and murders of police officers. According to the Justice Department, gangs.

One of Smith’s biggest and high-profile cases as a prosecutor in Brooklyn, New York, was the prosecution of gang member Ronelle Wilson for the murder of two NYPD detectives in an undercover gun operation on Staten Island.

Wilson was convicted and sentenced to death, the first death penalty in New York in 50 years at the time, although a judge later ruled he was not eligible for the death penalty.

Moe Fodeman, who worked with Smith at EDNY, called him “one of the best trial attorneys I’ve ever met.”

“He’s a phenomenal investigator; he leaves no stone unturned. He digs deep to see what’s really going on,” Fordman said.

Fordman, who remains a friend of Smith, said he was a “really crazy” cyclist and triathlete.

Beginning in 2008, Smith worked at the ICC and oversaw a war crimes investigation at the prosecutor’s office for two years.

In 2010, he became Chief of the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section, overseeing the prosecution of public corruption cases, and was then named First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee in 2015.

Although he is not widely known in Washington, D.C. legal circles, Smith has been described as a consummate public servant.

He hired wave after wave of front-line prosecutors into the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Division about a decade ago, overseeing dozens of prosecutors during his years in charge.

Brian Kidd, who Smith hired at the unit, recalled how his boss walked him through every step of the way in a complex racketeering case against corrupt police.

“He will not tolerate politically motivated prosecutions,” Kidd said. “And he has an unbelievable ability to motivate the people who work with him and under him. He’s very supportive of his team.”

Smith has tackled some of the most high-profile cases of political corruption in recent memory — with mixed results.

When he was governor of Virginia at the time, he was the head of the Department of Public Integrity. Bob McDonnell was indicted in 2014 while he was meeting with the defense team and involved in the decisions that led to the charges, according to a person familiar with the matter.

MacDonald was initially convicted of receiving political favors, but his conviction was subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court.

Smith also headed the Justice Department when it failed to convict former senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards in trial.

While working in The Hague in recent years, he has not lived in the United States. He is no longer a member of the USA Triathlon team, but remains a competitive cyclist.

Smith took over as acting U.S. attorney following the departure of David Rivera in early 2017, before leaving the Justice Department later that year to become vice president of litigation for American Hospital Corporation. In 2018, he became the Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court in The Hague investigating war crimes in Kosovo.

“Throughout his career, Jack Smith has earned a reputation as a fair and determined prosecutor who leads a team with energy and focus on pursuing the facts,” Garland said in Friday’s announcement. “Mr. Smith is the right choice to get these things done in a fair and urgent manner.”

In May 2014, the House Oversight Committee interviewed Smith behind closed doors as part of a Republican-led investigation into the alleged IRS targeting of conservative groups. Then-oversight chairman Darrell Issa launched the investigation after a 2013 inspector general report found delays in processing applications from certain conservative groups and asked them to provide information later deemed unnecessary.

Republicans sought testimony from Smith, then head of the Public Integrity Unit, for his part in arranging a 2010 meeting between Justice Department officials and then-IRS official Lois Lerner, the centerpiece of the IRS scandal. center officials. The meeting was called to discuss the “evolving legal landscape” of campaign finance law following the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, according to a May 2014 letter written by Issa and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, is expected to chair the House Judiciary Committee next year.

“It is clear that, under political pressure from Citizens United and prominent Democrats, the department’s leadership, including Public Integrity Chief Jack Smith, was intimately involved in engaging with the IRS to address the inherent shortcomings of this decision. question,” Issa and Jordan wrote in the letter seeking testimony from Smith.

Smith testified that after meeting with Lerner, his office had “conversations” with the FBI about opening an investigation related to the politically active nonprofit but ultimately did not do so, According to a transcript of his interview obtained by CNN.

Smith explained that he requested a meeting with the IRS because he wanted to learn more about the legal status of political nonprofits following the Citizens United decision, since he is relatively new to Public Integrity. Lerner explained that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to sue for tax-exempt status abuse, he said.

Smith reiterated repeatedly in the interview that the Justice Department did not conduct any investigations for political reasons.

“I want to be clear — it’s more about looking at the issue and looking at whether it makes sense to have an investigation,” he said. “If we did, you know, what would you do? Is there a basis for preaching, for investigating? Stuff like that. I can’t say because I’m sitting here now, you know, the back and forth of that discussion. I I can only tell you — because I know one of your concerns is that organizations are being targeted. I can tell you that we at Public Integrity have not opened any investigations as a result of these discussions, and as you know, we certainly haven’t brought any cases because of them .”

Smith also testified that he was not aware of anyone at the Justice Department who pressured the IRS — and that he was never forced to investigate any political groups.

“No. Maybe I can stop you guys. I know there’s a whole bunch of questions like that. I’ve never been asked these things, and no one who knew me would have considered asking me to do something like this,” Smith said.

This story has been updated with more details.

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