Jack Smith, the newly picked special counsel working on two criminal investigations at the Justice Department directly involving former President Trump, is getting right to work.
Ahead of a Tuesday court hearing scheduled to feature oral arguments in a court dispute before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals over the continuation of a review by a court-appointed third party known as a special master of items seized by the FBI in a raid in August of Trump’s southern Florida resort known as Mar-a-Lago, the Justice Department notified the court that Smith was effectively briefed and ready to proceed with arguments. The underlying investigation deals with Trump harboring classified documents after leaving office, and the department is trying to secure an end to the special master’s review, which is now focusing on unclassified materials taken in the raid that could help with establishing context clues for the handling of the items ID’ed as classified. Smith won’t be handling oral arguments himself, but he is evidently quickly becoming acquainted with the key facts of the case without much if any slowdown at all in the process.
“Special Counsel Smith has reviewed the filings in this litigation and approves all of the arguments that have been presented in the briefs and will be discussed at the oral argument in this case. Special Counsel Smith’s name will be affixed to future pleadings filed in all matters falling within his appointment,” a filing from the Justice Department said this week. Elsewhere in the court proceedings falling under his purview, things are also moving forward according to schedule. “At the same time, prosecutors who will work under Smith haven’t made widespread changes to their schedule in the next few weeks of taking witness testimony and collecting documents under subpoena, according to people familiar with the investigation,” according to CNN.
Besides the documents investigation, Smith will also be leading investigative efforts at the Justice Department dealing with efforts by and around Trump after the last election to undo the outcome. (He won’t be taking over individual prosecutions of participants in the Capitol riot that was inspired by Donald’s lies about the 2020 election.) CNN adds that Smith, who is a former Justice Department official who was subsequently working as a war crimes prosecutor, is intentionally hoping to cultivate a consistency with scheduling, keeping the probes broadly on track. His “message to the investigative teams is that his arrival shouldn’t delay work already under way,” according to the outlet, which was sharing sources’ revelations.
Attorney General Merrick Garland tied his choice to appoint a special counsel to the potential that Trump and Biden both running for the presidency could lead to the appearance of political calculations weighing on investigations related to Donald. Smith won’t report to anybody else at the department on a daily basis. He is largely independent.