Attorney General Garland Defends Special Counsel Jack Smith in First Public Statements on Trump's Indictment

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Attorney General Merrick Garland defended Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation leading to criminal charges against former President Donald Trump, in his first public remarks about the historic indictment. In November 2022, just days after Trump announced his intention to run for the presidency in 2024, Garland appointed Smith to investigate two matters. The first is regarding the documents seized from Mar-a-Lago in August 2022, along with a probe into Trump’s role in the January 6, 2021, Capitol riots. Trump was arraigned on 37 counts in the document case, which he calls a “boxes hoax,” in a federal court on Tuesday.


On Wednesday, at the start of a meeting with U.S. Department of Justice attorneys, Garland was asked when he first learned of the coming indictment, about the increasing support for Trump, and about ongoing criticisms that the DOJ is being weaponized. Garland emphasized his commitment to the DOJ’s decision to appoint Special Counsel Jack Smith.

Garland said:

As I said when I appointed Mr. Smith, I did so because it underscores the Justice Department’s commitment to both independence and accountability.

Garland doubled down on the Special Counsel’s purported ethics, saying:

Mr. Smith is a veteran career prosecutor. He has assembled a group of experienced and talented prosecutors and agents who share his commitment to integrity and the rule of law.

The Attorney General cited the ongoing criminal matter as a reason to not discuss the case against the former President.

Garland said:

As you know, I can’t talk about the particulars of this or any other ongoing criminal matter.

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Garland added that any questions about this matter will have to be answered by the special counsel’s court filings. When asked about his role in the process of the indictment, Garland stated:


My role is completely consistent with the regulations that set forth responsibilities to the attorney general, under the special counsel regulations, and I followed those regulations.

The Attorney General declined to provide a detailed explanation as to why the federal indictment of a former president was deemed the “best and most appropriate step” to take. Instead, he reiterated his adherence to regulations and responsibilities.

Speaking about the groups of supporters gathering outside the federal courthouse ahead of Trump’s arraignment in Miami, Garland said:

All I can say is, we live in a democracy. These kind of matters will be adjudicated through the judicial system. The Justice Department will be vigilant to be sure that there are no threats of violence or actual violence.

Trump referred to Smith as a “deranged lunatic” during a speech to an invigorated crowd at his New Jersey golf club following his arraignment where he plead not guilty to all charges. As previously reported by RedState‘s Nick Arama:

Trump called the case a “political persecution,” like out of a Communist nation, and election interference. “But they will fail and we will win!’ Trump said. He ridiculed them charging him under the Espionage Act and threatening him with “400 years in prison” for possessing his own presidential papers. It has nothing to do with a former president keeping his own documents, Trump said, contending that they are applying the wrong law. The Presidential Records Act is a civil statute, there are no criminal consequences, he explained.


Trump’s campaign has reported raising over $2 million in campaign donations during the fundraiser following his arraignment on Tuesday.


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