(Molly Bruns, Headline USA) Attorney General Merrick Garland last week appointed Jack Smith—a Washington, D.C., swamp creature who has a history of harassing conservatives—as special counsel to investigate former president Donald Trump’s possession of classified documents and his involvement with the Jan. 6 protest at the U.S. Capitol.
The announcement naming Smith as special counsel came just two days after Trump’s declaration of his candidacy in the 2024 presidential election.
However, DOJ officials insisted that Smith would operate on strictly bipartisan lines.
“He’s an exquisite lawyer and an exquisite prosecutor,” said Lanny Breuer, who led the Justice Department’s criminal division at the time Smith was hired for the job.
“He’s not political at all,” Breuer further claimed. “He’s straight down the middle.”
But Smith’s history as a government official says otherwise, as the Daily Caller reported.
In 2010, when Smith was working as the chief of the DOJ Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, he called a meeting with former IRS official Lois Lerner “to discuss how the IRS could assist in the criminal enforcement of campaign-finance laws against politically active nonprofits.”
Lerner resigned from the IRS in 2015 after receiving severe criticism for her targeting of conservative groups when either granting or rejecting tax-exempt status.
Smith also urged the IRS to be “vigilant to the opportunities from more crime in the… 501(c)(4) area.”
When selecting groups for audits, IRS officials working with Lerner chose organizations with the words “tea party,” “patriot” or “9/12” in their names, following Lerner’s meeting with Smith.
The IRS’s sudden rash of investigations into 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) tax-exempt nonprofits prevented them from engaging in the 2012 presidential race between Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
The agency admitted to the targeted approach in a 2013 interview.
After Lerner’s resignation, the House Oversight Committee hosted a hearing concerning the IRS’s targeted approach. She plead the Fifth Amendment and was held in contempt of Congress—although then-Attorney General Eric Holder, himself a member of the contempt of Congress club, opted not to file charges.
The report written by the House after the hearing also implicated Smith and his team in “serious conflicts of interest stemming from their interaction with the IRS.”
Smith also led the disastrous, politically motivated prosecution of former Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia on charges of corruption for accepting gifts of money, a Rolex watch, designer clothes and extravagant vacations in 2014.
McDonnell was found guilty by a jury; however, the Supreme Court reversed his conviction in 2016 and all charges were dismissed.
“There is no doubt that this case is distasteful; it may be worse than that. But our concern is not with tawdry tales of Ferraris, Rolexes, and ball gowns,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a report concerning the case.
“It is instead with the broader legal implications of the Government’s boundless interpretation of the federal bribery statute,” he continued. “A more limited interpretation of the term ‘official act’ leaves ample room for prosecuting corruption, while comporting with the text of the statute and the precedent of this Court.”
There is some suspicion that the lawsuit was a ruse to keep McDonnell, a successful Republican governor, from running in the 2016 presidential race.
Some political pundits also speculate that the overly broad prosecution of McDonnell helped flip the state’s 2013 gubernatorial race in favor of the Democrats, giving an edge to Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a longtime ally of Hillary Clinton, ahead of the 2016 campaign.
Thus, the decision to tap Smith ahead of the 2024 election in another politically tinged probe that may involve loose interpretations of the law would seem to fall squarely in his wheelhouse.
As special counsel, Smith will oversee two investigations into Trump: one investigation regarding whether the former President “unlawfully interfered in the transfer of power following the 2020 presidential election,” and the second pertaining to his possession of classified information discovered in an FBI raid on his Mar-a-Lago home.
Trump alleges that the FBI unlawfully seized materials subject to attorney–client privilege. He quickly sued to have the documents examined by a Special Master to determine whether they can be used the DOJ’s investigation.
Smith did not appear for Garland’s conference appointing him as special prosecutor, but he released a statement announcing his resignation from his former position at The Hague and promising to pursue the Trump investigation with “independent judgement.”
“I intend to conduct the assigned investigations, and any prosecutions that may result from them, independently and in the best traditions of the Department of Justice,” he said.
“The pace of the investigations will not pause or flag under my watch,” he added. “I will exercise independent judgement and will move the investigations forward expeditiously and thoroughly to whatever outcome the facts and the law dictate.”