(NewsNation) — Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel Friday to oversee two separate Justice Department investigations involving former President Donald Trump.
The special counsel will assess whether criminal charges are warranted in connection with the handling of classified documents at Mar-A-Lago, and will also oversee aspects of the DOJ investigation into Trump’s role leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
In a speech Friday night, Trump assailed the Biden administration as “egregiously corrupt” and called it a “horrendous abuse of power — the latest in a long list of witch hunts.” You can watch the speech in the player below.
The appointment comes just days after Trump formally announced his third consecutive bid for the White House. Garland said that announcement, and the expectation that President Joe Biden will run again, led him to take extra precautions to ensure impartiality.
“Such an appointment underscores the department’s commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters,” said Garland.
Garland has appointed Jack Smith, a longtime prosecutor and former head of the Justice Department’s public integrity section, to serve as special counsel.
“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,” Smith said Friday. “The pace of the investigations will not pause or flag under my watch.”
Although Smith will now take over both criminal investigations, Garland will ultimately decide whether to bring charges.
Trump called the appointment “disgraceful” and said it was part of a “never ending Witch Hunt” on his social media platform, Truth Social.
During his speech Monday night, Trump said he’d already cooperated with multiple jurisdictions investigating him and the lack of charges proves he’s “one of the most honest and innocent people ever in our country.”
Legal experts told NewsNation this week they expect the investigations to continue despite Trump’s run for office.
This story will continue to be updated. Please check back for updates.