Career prosecutor Jack Smith was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland as the special counsel who will investigate former President Donald Trump. That has Smith’s politics under scrutiny.
Is Smith a Democrat or Republican?
Garland was appointed to his position by President Joe Biden. Smith is a career prosecutor. The main criticism from conservatives focuses on his involvement with the IRS scandal, which they believe singled out and targeted conservative organizations.
According to Daily Mail, Smith’s wife is Katy Chevingy.
Her IMDb profile says, “Katy Chevigny is known for Becoming (2020), E-Team (2014) and Deadline (2004).” The first film is a documentary about Michelle Obama’s life. She also donated at least $1,000 to President Joe Biden’s campaign, according to the Federal Election Commission.
Garland’s press release states:
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced today the appointment of former career Justice Department prosecutor and former chief prosecutor for the special court in The Hague, Jack Smith, to serve as Special Counsel to oversee two ongoing criminal investigations. The first is the investigation, as described in court filings in the District of Columbia, into whether any person or entity unlawfully interfered with the transfer of power following the 2020 presidential election or the certification of the Electoral College vote held on or about January 6, 2021. The second is the ongoing investigation involving classified documents and other presidential records, as well as the possible obstruction of that investigation, referenced and described in court filings submitted in a pending matter in the Southern District of Florida.
The appointment comes just days after Trump announced he was running for president in 2024. According to Politico, “Smith, a 1994 Harvard Law School graduate, led the department’s public integrity section for five years as a career official during the Obama administration before taking on a position at the U.S. attorney’s office in the Middle District of Tennessee.”
Smith released a statement promising a fair investigation:
Here’s what you need to know:
Smith’s Ties to the IRS Scandal Have Raised Concern Among Some Conservatives
Mike Howell, who ran The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project and was previously an attorney for the House Oversight Committee, tweeted, “Jack Smith is well known and liked in leftist circles because of his role in the IRS scandal, working with Lois Lerner to illicitly target conservative groups.”
He shared a 2014 letter, writing, “@Jim_Jordan and @DarrellIssa sent the below letter in 2014 mentioning him.”
That letter reads:
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, today requested that the Department of Justice make DOJ Public Integrity Section Chief Jack Smith available for a transcribed interview. The request comes after Smith’s subordinate, Director of DOJ’s Election Crimes Branch, Richard Pilger, told Committee investigators in a transcribed interview that the Justice Department met with Lois Lerner in October 2010, two and a half years earlier than previously known, to discuss potential criminal enforcement relating to political speech of nonprofit groups in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
…the Justice Department convened a meeting with former IRS official Lois Lerner in October 2010 to discuss how the IRS could assist in the criminal enforcement of campaign-finance laws against politically active nonprofits. This meeting was arranged at the direction of Public Integrity Section Chief Jack Smith.
The portions of the letter about Smith derive from Richard Pilger, the Director of the Department of Justice’s Election Crimes Branch.
According to Mr. Pilger, Mr. Smith asked him to arrange a meeting in early October 2010 with the IRS about the ‘evolving legal landscape’ of campaign-finance law following the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision. Mr. Pilger testified that the Department’s agenda for the meeting was to engage with Ms. Lerner and the IRS on being ‘more vigilant to the opportunities from more crime in the . . . 501(c)(4) area.’
Other conservatives criticized the appointment of a special counsel in general, not the selection of Jack Smith per se. “There is no good-faith basis for the any of the DOJ ‘investigations’ of Trump, let alone a special counsel,” tweeted Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch.
The reaction broke down along political lines; others praised the appointment.
“This is why you never cave to rightwing criticism. It’s not that they *actually* believe Merrick Garland is a partisan actor, it’s that they’re going to paint *anyone* investigating Trump as a partisan actor. Giving in only emboldens them more,” tweeted podcaster Brian Tyler Cohen.
Some critical of Trump accused Garland of “punting” the prosecution decision to Smith.
Smith Was Described as Tenacious But Apolitical
Andrew Weissman, a prosecutor who was part of Robert Mueller’s team that probed the Russia investigation, tweeted, “I was described by Steve Bannon (and, sigh, many others) as a pit bull. Jack Smith makes me look like a golden retriever puppy. So tenacious and fearless. And apolitical and ethical.”
Weissman added, “Jack Smith is the consummate professional and career DOJ prosecutor. Not a political bone in his body. And a skilled and fast prosecutor who does not let the grass grow under his feet. In short, a terrific choice if you are appointing a Special Counsel.”
However, Weissman wasn’t considered apolitical by conservatives. During the Mueller probe, Weissman was criticized for his campaign donations to Barack Obama.
Harvard Professor Emeritus Laurence Tribe tweeted, “If a special counsel was to be appointed, I can think of no-one better suited than Jack Smith. Vast experience prosecuting public corruption cases, treacherous national security violations, and crimes against humanity. Absorbs complex facts instantly. Perfect for Donald Trump.”
A review of the Federal Election Commission database did not immediately come up with any campaign donations for Jack Smith with an occupation of DOJ, Department of Justice, prosecutor, attorney or lawyer (a man comes up under the latter, but it’s a different person.)
Nothing comes up for him here in major City of New York races either.
Smith Is a War Crime Prosecutor Who Was a Prosecutor in New York
Jack Smith’s Department of Justice biography reads as follows:
Jack Smith was appointed First Assistant United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee in February of 2015. Prior to his appointment, from 2010 to 2015 Mr. Smith served as Chief of the Public Integrity Section of the United States Department of Justice, supervising the litigation of complex public corruption cases across the country. From 2008 to 2010, Jack served as Investigation Coordinator in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, Netherlands. In that capacity, he supervised sensitive investigations of foreign government officials and militia for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Mr. Smith joined the ICC from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, where he served for 9 years in a number of supervisory positions, including Chief of Criminal Litigation and Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division. As Chief of Criminal Litigation, Mr. Smith supervised approximately 100 criminal prosecutors across a range of program areas, such as public corruption, violent crime and gangs, and white collar and complex financial fraud. Before becoming an Assistant United States Attorney, Mr. Smith served for five years as an Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office.
Mr. Smith is the recipient of the Director’s Award from the Department of Justice, the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service, the Federal Bar Association’s Younger Federal Attorney Award, the Eastern District Association’s Charles Rose Award and the Henry L. Stimson Medal by New York County Bar Association. Mr. Smith is a cum graduate of Harvard Law School and a summa cum laude graduate of the State University of New York at Oneonta.
According to Politico, some of Smith’s notable prosecutions include the prosecution of CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling for “disclosing national defense information and obstructing justice,” and former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and former Republican Rep. Rick Renzi, on bribery and extortion charges. “McDonnell’s conviction was later overturned by the Supreme Court,” Politico reported.
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