LIVERPOOL — U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed Liverpool High School alumnus John “Jack” Smith as special counsel for two investigations into former President Donald J. Trump.
Smith, who graduated from LHS in 1987, will oversee the Department of Justice’s criminal investigations into Trump’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and Trump’s handling of sensitive documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
“Based on recent developments, including the former president’s announcement that he is a candidate for president in the next election, and the sitting president’s stated intention to be a candidate as well, I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint a special counsel,” Garland said in a press conference Nov. 18. “Such an appointment underscores the department’s commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters. It also allows prosecutors and agents to continue their work expeditiously, and to make decisions indisputably guided only by the facts and the law.”
Currently, Smith is a war crimes prosecutor for the International Criminal Court in the Hague. He is still in the Netherlands recovering from a cycling accident but will begin his duties as special counsel immediately. Smith plans to return to the U.S.
“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. The pace of the investigations will not pause or flag under my watch. I will exercise independent judgement and will move the investigations forward expeditiously and thoroughly to whatever outcome the facts and the law dictate,” Smith said in a statement.
Garland called Smith the “right choice to complete these matters in an even-handed and urgent manner.”
“Throughout his career, Jack Smith has built a reputation as an impartial and determined prosecutor, who leads teams with energy and focus to follow the facts wherever they lead,” Garland said.
Smith grew up in Clay and is a graduate of SUNY Oneonta and Harvard Law School. He began his law career in the New York County District Attorney’s Office, where he was an assistant DA in the sex crimes and domestic violence units. Smith has also worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in both the Eastern District of New York and the Middle District of Tennessee.
He also has served as Chief of the Public Integrity Section of the United States Department of Justice. In that role, Garland said, Smith “led a team of more than 30 prosecutors who handled public corruption and election crimes cases across the United States.”
Prior to his appointment to the ICC, Smith spent a year as vice president and head of litigation for the Hospital Corporation of America, the nation’s largest non-governmental health-care provider.
This is a developing story.