Garland appoints special counsel to oversee DOJ investigations into Jan. 6, classified documents at Trump’s home

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Friday that former federal prosecutor Jack Smith has been appointed as special counsel to lead the Department of Justice probes into the Jan. 6 insurrection and classified documents found at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.

Video transcript

ATTORNEY GENERAL MERRICK GARLAND: Good afternoon. I'm here today to announce the appointment of a special counsel in connection with two ongoing criminal investigations that have received significant public attention. The first, as described in court filings in the District of Columbia, is the investigation into whether any person or entity unlawfully interfered with the transfer of power following the 2020 presidential election or the certification of the electoral college vote held on or about January 6 2021. The second is the ongoing investigation involving classified documents and other presidential records, as well as the possible obstruction of that investigation, referenced and described in court filings in a pending matter in the Southern District of Florida.

The Department of Justice has long recognized that in certain extraordinary cases, it is in the public interest to appoint a special prosecutor to independently manage an investigation and prosecution. 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 stated intention to be a candidate as well, I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint a special counsel. Today, I signed an order appointing Jack Smith to serve as special counsel. The order authorizes him to continue the ongoing investigation into both of the matters that I have just described and to prosecute any federal crimes that may arise from those investigations.