Written by Hudson Crozier
What’s happening: Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel—an independent, third-party prosecutor—to oversee the Justice Department’s investigations into classified documents at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate; the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot; and the alleged efforts by Republicans to overturn the 2020 election.
Why? Now that Trump has announced his 2024 presidential run, Garland said it is “in the public interest” to appoint prosecutor Jack Smith. By using a third-party prosecutor so as to not directly investigate a political rival, the Biden administration is trying to avoid appearing biased.
Some Republicans are skeptical: Republicans are wary that Smith is biased against the right. They point to Smith’s involvement in an Internal Revenue Service crackdown under the Obama administration that blocked hundreds of conservative nonprofits from achieving tax-exempt status and subjected them to intrusive oversight.
Party rivalry escalates: Stakes are high as legal experts suspect the special counsel appointment will lead to an indictment of Trump. In the same week, Republicans announced they would use their newly won House majority to investigate Hunter Biden’s corrupt business dealings and President Joe Biden’s alleged role.