The new era in special counsels reveals what American politics has to say

The new era in special counsels reveals what American politics has to say

Zachary Basu

Merrick Garland

Photo by Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

This is unprecedented in American history. Two Special Counsels are currently investigating the cases of two presidential candidates who were against one another in their last election. There’s a good chance they will again do so in 2024.

It matters why: For a glimpse of America’s divided politics, look no further than the Justice Department over the past half-decade.

  • 2017Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general, appoints Robert Mueller to investigate Trump’s 2016 ties with Russia.
  • 2020Attorney General Bill Barr has appointed John Durham to investigate possible violations of the Russia investigation.
  • 2022: Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed Jack Smith to investigate Trump’s handling of classified information and attempts to reverse the 2020 election.
  • 2023: Garland appoints Robert Hur to examine President Biden’s handling classified documents.

The news is driving: Garland stated Thursday that while he believes that normal DOJ procedures could have dealt with the Biden probe “with integrity”, but that “extraordinary circumstances” made it necessary to appoint a special counsel.

  • Garland did not elaborate on the details, but these circumstances include Garland’s decision to less than two years earlier to appoint an independent counsel to probe Biden’s main political rival in light of his own scandal with classified documents.
  • Although the differences between Trump and Biden are important, the mere presence of files from Biden’s Delaware residence and private office has been a huge political blessing to Republicans.
Trump Truth Social Post
Via Truth Social

In between the lines: Trump’s War on Institutions and the Democrats’ Response to Trump, who they consider uniquely dangerous, has created a system where almost any investigation into a politician can be done through a partisan lens.

  • Garland is a former federal judge who has worked tirelessly to prevent any appearance of political shaming.
  • Trump-appointed U.S. lawyers were specifically chosen by Trump to oversee both the initial review and subsequent investigation.
  • Former federal prosecutors expressed doubt that the DOJ Regulations required the appointment of special counsel if there was a basis to conduct a criminal investigation.

They are saying this: Harry Litman is a former U.S. Attorney and deputy assistant attorney General. He believes that Garland took the decision because of “abundances of caution.”

  • Litman stated on CNN that “I suspect” the White House will welcome the decision.
  • Andrew Weissmann is the lead prosecutor in the Mueller probe. He added, via Twitter, “Appointment Hur makes Jack Smith’s job much simpler to bring Trump home.” [Mar-a-Lago documents] charges. This gives DOJ balance and fairness.

Let’s get to the bottom of it: These careful measures are unlikely to please Republicans who view Garland as an partisan attack dog. They have made the investigation into the “weaponization” of the federal government a priority for the new Congress.

Go deeper

Continue reading