Jack Smith: The Man Who Indicted Trump Twice

Jack Smith is the special counsel who has brought two historic indictments against former President Donald Trump in the span of two months. Smith, a veteran prosecutor with a reputation for being fearless and independent, was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland in November 2022 to oversee two investigations into Trump: one into his handling of classified documents and the other into his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

A Career of Public Integrity

Smith, 54, was born in June 1969 and grew up in a suburb of Syracuse, New York. He graduated from the State University of New York at Oneonta in 1991 and earned his Juris Doctor at Harvard Law School. He began his career as a prosecutor in 1994 at the Manhattan district attorney’s office, where he handled cases involving murder, robbery, and sexual assault.

In 1999, he switched to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, where he supervised about 100 criminal prosecutors who dealt with cases involving terrorism, civil rights violations, and financial fraud. He was involved in the prosecution of Ronnell Wilson, a gang leader who murdered two undercover NYPD officers, and Charles Schwarz, one of several former city officers implicated in an assault case against a jailed Black inmate.

Jack Smith: The Man Who Indicted Trump Twice
Jack Smith: The Man Who Indicted Trump Twice

In 2008, he moved to The Hague, Netherlands, to work at the International Criminal Court as a senior trial lawyer. He returned to the Justice Department in 2010 to lead its Public Integrity Section, which was established after the Watergate scandal and oversees the investigation and prosecution of federal crimes affecting government integrity, such as bribery of public officials and election crimes. He oversaw high-profile cases that often targeted elected officials, such as Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, who was investigated for alleged campaign finance violations aimed at hiding an extramarital affair. The case was later dropped.

By 2018, Smith had returned to The Hague to work as the specialist prosecutor at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, where he investigated war crimes committed during Kosovo’s war for independence from Serbia.

A Special Counsel for Trump

In November 2022, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Smith as the special counsel to oversee two criminal investigations into former President Donald Trump. The first one concerned Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents that were discovered at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. The second one concerned Trump’s alleged attempts to overturn his loss in the 2020 presidential election by pressuring state officials, members of Congress, and the Justice Department to change or invalidate the results.

Smith vowed to conduct the investigations independently and expeditiously. “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 in a statement. “The pace of the investigations will not pause or flag under my watch. I will exercise independent judgment and will move the investigations forward expeditiously and thoroughly to whatever outcome the facts and the law dictate.”

In June 2023, Smith indicted Trump on four criminal counts in connection with the trove of documents improperly stored at his Mar-a-Lago resort. The indictment alleged that Trump violated federal laws that prohibit unauthorized possession or disclosure of classified information. The documents included sensitive information about U.S. national security, foreign policy, military operations, intelligence sources and methods, and nuclear weapons.

In August 2023, Smith dropped another bombshell: he indicted Trump on five more criminal counts in relation to his alleged efforts to subvert the 2020 election. The indictment alleged that Trump conspired to defraud the U.S., conspired to obstruct an official proceeding (the certification of electoral votes by Congress), obstructed and attempted to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspired against rights (by interfering with the right to vote). The indictment detailed how Trump pressured state officials in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin to overturn or decertify their election results; how he urged members of Congress to object to or delay the certification of electoral votes; how he tried to influence or replace Justice Department officials who refused to support his claims of election fraud; and how he incited his supporters to storm the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The historic development marks the first time a former president has been hit with one federal indictment, let alone two. Smith has shown that he is not afraid to take on one of the most powerful and controversial figures in American history. He has also demonstrated his commitment to uphold the rule of law and protect democracy from any threats or abuses.

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