United States: a special prosecutor appointed to investigate Donald Trump
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U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Friday that he has appointed current war crimes prosecutor Jack Smith as special prosecutor to oversee investigations into former President Donald Trump. An announcement that the ex-president described as “unfair” and “political”.

A special prosecutor for two separate investigations. The US Minister of Justice on Friday, November 18, “in the public interest” appointed an expert war crimes prosecutor to independently investigate Donald Trump, three days after his declaration of presidential candidacy in 2024.

Merrick Garland announced in a televised address that he had entrusted this extremely “sensitive” mission to Jack Smith, prosecutor based in The Hague for the Special Court for Kosovo.

“Given recent developments, including the former president’s announcement of his candidacy for the next presidential election and the current president’s intention to stand as a candidate, I have concluded that it is in the interest of the public that I appoint a special prosecutor,” he said.

Donald Trump, in an interview with the American channel Fox, denounced the “political” and “unfair” appointment of this special prosecutor.

Denouncing “the worst politicization of justice” in American history, the Republican billionaire added that he would not participate in the investigations. “It’s shameful, they’re doing this just because I’m leading the polls,” continued the former president who announced his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election three days ago.

Investigation Series

Jack Smith immediately takes the lead in two separate investigations carried out for months by the federal justice: the first relates to the consequences of the presidential election of 2020, the second to the management by the ex-president of confidential documents supposed to be archived.

Prosecutor Smith, in a statement, immediately promised to act “quickly”, “independently” and “thoroughly”.

Merrick Garland also insisted on the impartiality of the prosecutor: “As a special prosecutor, he will exercise his professional judgment independently in deciding whether there should be an indictment” in either of these files, has said the Minister.

>> Read also: Can the FBI’s shock search at Mar-a-Lago lead to the ineligibility of Donald Trump?

The first series of investigations entrusted to Jack Smith relate to Donald Trump’s efforts to contest his defeat in the presidential election of 2020, until the assault led by his supporters against the Capitol on January 6, 2021, at the time of the certification of the victory of his Democratic rival Joe Biden.

This sprawling investigation has already led to the indictment of nearly 900 people who directly participated in the violence.

But prosecutors have never ruled out looking at other actors. “Everyone who is criminally responsible for efforts to nullify the election will have to answer for their actions,” Merrick Garland has said repeatedly in the past.

Court battle

The second investigation relates to the archives of the White House.

Leaving the presidency, Donald Trump took entire boxes of documents. However, a law of 1978 obliges any American president to transmit all of his emails, letters and other working documents to the National Archives.

In January, he returned 15 boxes. After examination, the federal police estimated that he probably kept others in his luxurious residence in Mar-a-Lago, Florida.

FBI agents conducted a spectacular search there on August 8 on the basis of a warrant for “retention of classified documents” and “obstructing a federal investigation”, and seized around thirty other boxes.

An intense legal battle then opened to determine the nature of the documents seized – classified, personal or declassified – which slowed down the procedure but, here again, a federal indictment remains possible.

>> To read also: Search at Donald Trump: what the former American president risks

In the past, Donald Trump has already been the subject of an investigation supervised by a special prosecutor: Robert Mueller was charged in 2017 with establishing whether there had been collusion between his campaign team and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

After two years of investigation, he had judged not to have enough evidence of a plot between Moscow and the Trump team, but had noted a series of disturbing pressures exerted by the tenant of the White House on his investigation and was said to be unable to clear him of the suspicions of obstruction of justice.

The Minister of Justice at the time, Republican Bill Barr, however, did not consider it necessary to prosecute him.

During his tenure, Donald Trump was also the target of two impeachment trials: one, for “abuse of power”, concerned pressure exerted by the president on Ukraine to give him embarrassing elements for Joe Biden; the other for “inciting insurrection” in the attack on the Capitol. He was acquitted in both cases thanks to the Republican majority in the Senate.

With AFP

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