The special counsel investigating Trump faces headwinds few others have

By | January 11, 2023

The New York Times reports:

Jack Smith, the special counsel appointed to investigate former President Donald J. Trump, was already working 12-hour days before moving from his home in The Hague to Washington for a new job and an uncertain future.

The actions Mr. Smith has taken since he began in November suggest a prosecutor on the move to resolve concurrent investigations into Mr. Trump’s retention of government documents and his actions during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol before a presidential election in which his subject is a declared candidate.

He has asked prosecutors to stress-test potential charges related to Mr. Trump’s handling of national security documents after he left office. He has called back key witnesses to scrutinize their accounts and present more information before the grand jury. He has pushed investigators to issue dozens of subpoenas related to efforts to overturn the 2020 election. And he has interviewed players in Mr. Trump’s orbit to try to understand his mind-set when he held onto government records, and whether people connected to him have tried to influence witnesses.

But even as Mr. Smith — known to colleagues as a brisk and hard-charging prosecutor — pushes toward his goal of moving expeditiously, he faces headwinds that other special counsels have not. The challenges are unique to investigating Mr. Trump at a time when newly empowered House Republicans have established a committee responsible for investigating the investigators who they insist are targeting their party and the former president for political purposes.

His job only became more challenging this week after the disclosure that lawyers for President Biden had discovered a small trove of classified documents at a private office, which could force Attorney General Merrick B. Garland into appointing a second special counsel.

Before announcing Mr. Smith’s appointment, Mr. Garland knew that the president’s lawyers had found the classified documents on Nov. 2. A Justice Department spokesman would not say when Mr. Smith learned about the Biden documents and declined to comment for this article.

Should John R. Lausch Jr., the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney in Chicago assigned to review the Biden matter, recommend installing a special counsel, Mr. Smith would likely pay close attention to the outcome of that inquiry, even though it is a separate matter.

Mary McCord, a former top official in the Justice Department’s national security division, cautioned that the circumstances do not seem comparable based on what was publicly known so far, but she acknowledged that the Biden case could shape Mr. Smith’s work. [Continue reading…]

NBC News reports:

Aides to President Joe Biden have discovered at least one additional batch of classified documents in a location separate from the Washington office he used after leaving the Obama administration, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Since November, after the discovery of documents with classified markings in his former office, Biden aides have been searching for any additional classified materials that might be in other locations he used, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to provide details about the ongoing inquiry. [Continue reading…]

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