In setting up an attorney special counsel to look into the existence of classified documents in Joe Biden’s Delaware residence and former Washington office attorney general Merrick Garland stated that the appointment was an affirmation of the Justice Department’s dedication to independence and accountability in particular sensitive investigation.
Garland employed the same phrasing in November when he appointed an additional special counsel to an additional politically explosive investigation into classified documents of another political figurethe preservation of classified documents at the former presidential residence of Donald Trump in Florida residence, Mar-a-Lago.
The Justice Department has investigated White House questions previously. However, a special counsel appointed by the Trump administration to examine the sources of the FBI’s probe into Russia and Trump is also working.
The confluence of the special counsel underscores the way the Justice Department that for nearly two centuries has had the mission of pursuing cases without favour or fear has become involved in the politics of presidents. Even though Garland stated on on Thursday of claiming that the department’s “normal processes” can handle all investigations in a professional manner The appointment appeared to be a nod to the fact that investigations that involve presidents
It puts Garland at risk of having to assure public members that the two investigations, although in fact different, are conducted in a similar way.
Brandon Van Grack, a former Justice Department prosecutor who served as a member of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s team while it was investigating the ties between Russia and Trump’s presidential campaign, has said that appointing an attorney general can aid in the speeding up of an investigation, make sure that it is able to fund it and help create “at least the perception of impartiality and fairness.”
The White House earlier this week acknowledged that lawyer for the president’s personal assistants discovered the existence of a “small number” of classified documents at the offices that was his institute prior to his departure from Washington. This resulted in Garland to contact for the U.S. attorney in Chicago, John Lausch, a Trump Administration alumnus to investigate the issue but Lausch is currently preparing to retire from his position at the Justice Department.
This week, Garland announced Robert Hur an ex-highly placed Justice Department official in the Trump administration, who was U.S. attorney in Maryland and was appointed the special counsel.
There’s been a long-standing tradition of special-appointed prosecutors who were tasked with investigating political scandals. This includes Iran-Contra under the presidency of Ronald Reagan as well as Whitewater in Clinton’s. However, a law that allowed to appoint an independent attorney in the absence of in the Justice Department expired in 1999 following a heated and politically polarized investigation that ended in Clinton’s impeachment in the House but an acquittal by the Senate.
The replacement was an amendment to Justice Department regulations that authorized the attorney general to designate an attorney general to appoint a “special counsel” like Smith and Hur. The aim is to provide the final Justice Department oversight of sensitive investigations, not to be an independent prosecutor who was able to operate free of oversight and control.
Although the attorney general has the final say over the decision of a special counsel but special counsels do have the power to pursue whatever case they think is appropriate. They’re funded by Justice Department, can bring on their own prosecutor and are entitled to office space , and are usually expensive. The Mueller investigation, for example was able to generate over $25 million in expenses during the first year, and then a half.
How many in-depth discussions Garland will be able to have in his own special counsels is not clear but he stated on Thursday it was clear that Hur “will not be subject to the day-to-day supervision of any official” within the Justice Department. Officials have stated that they’re expected to agree to the recommendations of a special counsel’s procedure in the event that it is outside of the department’s standard procedure.