WASHINGTON (TND) — The recent, major announcement by U. S. Attorney General Merrick Garland that he was appointing a special counsel to investigate former President Donald Trump was designed, in part, to depoliticize the process but few moves in Washington go without controversy these days.
At the Justice Department, the naming of Jack Smith as a special counsel provides a new avenue to look into Trump’s possible criminal handling of confidential documents. Smith is now tasked with determining if Trump should be charged.
“No president, Republican or Democrat, should be ever above the law,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., current member of the House Judiciary Committee. “So, if Donald Trump did nothing wrong, he should accept the findings of the special counsel but if he did something wrong, he should be very worried that this team will find out and under a true rule of law system, he’ll be held to account.”
While top Democrats praised Smith’s selection, the pushback was predictable.
“This horrendous abuse of power is the latest in a long series of witch hunts. It started a long time ago. I thought the investigation with the document hoax was dying or dead or over," Trump said to a crowd of supporters Friday night.
Critics on the right instantly attacked the man now overseeing probes into Trump’s possession of those documents and aspects of the investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 loss to President Joe Biden.
“Former President Trump politicizes everything that goes on with these investigations and other cases," said former federal prosecutor Glenn Ivey, just elected to the House of Representatives as a Maryland Democrat. "The special prosecutor that was named here has experience with those. He’s prosecuted other current or former elected officials. They always say or frequently say this is politically motivated, so this is nothing new out of the playbook.”
While Smith has been applauded for a career of fighting corruption, conservatives are questioning his credibility. One right-wing site alleged that "Smith was involved with the infamous Lois Lerner who used the IRS to target Tea Party and other conservative groups via auditing and application processing delays in 2010."
"Clearly, possessing classified documents in an unprotected area is not proper. But I have to tell you, going to the last resort of executing a search warrant against a former president of the United States, I think sent the wrong message. It was a divisive message in this country," former Vice President Mike Pence told Meet the Press over the weekend.
With Trump now running for president for a third time, the scrutiny of a special counsel — just as it did under Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia probe — is likely to escalate.