To hear the media tell it, Jack Smith, the special counsel appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate Donald Trump’s alleged theft of classified documents and any illegal interference in the certification of the 2020 election results, is feverishly working away.
Smith, according to a recent story in Yahoo News, issued subpoenas seeking more information related to Trump’s attempts to “overturn” the 2020 election. The subpoenas target “election officials in seven battleground states that were key to former President Trump and his allies after the 2020 election,” Brad Dress reported on December 14.
“These grand jury subpoenas make clear that Special Counsel Jack Smith is aggressively pursuing the January 6th investigation, including the ‘fake electors’ scheme,’” legal analyst Renato Mariotti swooned on Twitter.
Smith has “[hit] the ground running,” the Washington Examiner claimed on December 12.
Except there’s a tiny problem—it’s unlikely Smith can hit any ground running. According to CNN, Smith is still on the mend after undergoing knee surgery last month. And not only is Smith not in Washington, D.C., to manage the investigation that bears his name, but he also isn’t even in the country.
“Though he remains in Europe recovering from a biking accident, Smith has made a series of high-profile moves since he was put in charge last month, including asking a federal judge to hold Trump in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena ordering him to turn over records marked classified,” CNN reported on December 11.
But Smith isn’t making any “moves” in court. His condition also explains why Smith was not in attendance during Garland’s press conference on November 18 announcing his appointment. Garland insisted he had no choice but to name a special counsel after Trump announced his intention to run for president again in 2024.
“The Department of Justice has long recognized that in certain extraordinary cases, it is in the public interest to appoint a special prosecutor to independently manage an investigation and prosecution,” Garland said. “Such an appointment underscores the Department’s commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters.”
The stunt was intended to convince the public that Garland, a political appointee of Joe Biden, and his top aides—including Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco and another Biden appointee, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew Graves—would take a hands-off approach into the criminal probe of Trump and Republican officials who aided post-election efforts to salvage his presidency. (Monaco and Graves, the prosecutor currently handling more than 900 January 6 cases, stood next to Garland at the announcement.)
The basis for a special counsel is to avoid any “conflict of interest” between the Justice Department and political targets of an investigation, according to the law’s language. A special counsel, both by design and Garland’s own explanation, is meant to ensure the “independence” of an investigation. So prosecutors and investigators who take the reins should be unaffiliated with the “conflicted” Justice Department officials.
Except that isn’t the case with an absentee Smith. “A team of 20 prosecutors investigating January 6 and the effort to overturn the 2020 election are in the process of moving to work under Smith,” CNN continued. “Smith will also take on national security investigators already working the probe into the potential mishandling of federal records taken to Mar-a-Lago after Trump left the White House.”
In other words, Smith, or someone pulling the strings, is simply transferring people from existing investigations to his team.
And that’s not all. Thomas Windom, a close advisor to Garland, also will move to Smith’s office. Windom has been working on a vast investigation into Trump and several associates, including Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, and John Eastman, since last year. “Windom has been involved in almost all the department’s other key decisions regarding the wide-ranging inquiry into Mr. Trump’s multilayered effort to remain in office,” the New York Times reported in June 2022.
This includes organizers of Trump’s speech at the Ellipse on January 6 and Republican lawmakers who planned to legally object to the certification of some electoral votes that day. Windom has issued a flurry of subpoenas “seeking information on any members of the executive or legislative branch who helped to plan or execute the rally, or who tried to obstruct the certification of the election that was taking place inside the Capitol that day—a broad net that could include top Trump aides and the former president’s allies in Congress,” according to the Times.
This is the exact opposite of an “independent” investigation. Garland, with help from the media, is intentionally misleading the public into believing his staff, including those already deeply involved in an obvious political prosecution, have been removed from the matter.
Further, does anyone for a moment believe that Monaco, a longtime Obama loyalist and an architect of the Russia collusion hoax, will really step away from investigating the man she’s tried to destroy for the better part of six years? Or will Graves, a Biden campaign advisor married to the head of a radical left-wing nonprofit in D.C. who considers white women “racist” for voting for Trump? At least two other prosecutors working for Graves in D.C. will simply walk a few blocks over to the special counsel’s office.
Just like everything out of Garland’s department, the notion that Jack Smith is in charge and his staff is “independent” is a flagrant lie. That’s why Smith is in no hurry to get back to the United States—Garland and his gang still have everything under control.