Jack Smith: The Special Counsel Investigating Donald Trump

Credits: Salon.com

For the last two decades, John Luman Smith, 54, has been a persistent figure pursuing public officials in the United States and abroad, navigating through a mixed record of success. Smith has maintained a low profile as the appointed special counsel in the two investigations into Donald Trump by the US Department of Justice.

In announcing Smith’s selection last November, Attorney General Merrick Garland described him as “the right choice to complete these matters in an even-handed and urgent manner.” In contrast, Donald Trump has characterized Smith as a “deranged” figure leading a “political witch hunt” against him.

Jack Smith (Credits: The New York Times)

The special counsel has indicted Trump over alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 election and on 40 felony counts related to the mishandling of classified documents. During Trump’s arraignment hearing in Washington DC, Smith sat in the court’s front row, about 20ft away from the former president, with apparently exchanged glances between the two.

Much like the subject of his investigation, John Luman Smith is a native of New York. After graduating from Harvard Law School, he began his prosecutorial career in 1994 as an assistant district attorney in the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

Over the next decade, he rose through the ranks of the US attorney’s office in Brooklyn, focusing on cases involving violent gangs, white-collar fraud, and public corruption.

Smith’s commitment to his work was notable, with anecdotes such as spending a weekend sleeping in a hallway to persuade a woman to testify in a domestic violence case, as reported by the Associated Press (AP).

During his time at the Brooklyn office, he was involved in the investigation of the infamous assault on Haitian immigrant Abner Louima by New York police.

According to the New York Times, his work on the Louima case played a role in his recommendation for the position of special counsel in the Trump investigations.

In 2008, Smith ventured overseas to The Hague in the Netherlands, overseeing war crimes investigations as a junior investigator for the International Criminal Court. Returning to the Justice Department two years later, he assumed the role of chief of the department’s public integrity unit, responsible for prosecuting federal crimes like public bribery and election fraud.

In a 2010 interview with AP, Smith described the transition as leaving “the dream job for a better one.” However, his tenure began with the closure of some long-running investigations into Congress members without charges.

Despite this setback, Smith pressed forward, leading the prosecution in a public corruption case against former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, a Republican.

The case was ultimately unanimously overturned by the US Supreme Court in 2016, marking a significant development during Smith’s leadership of the public integrity unit.

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