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Who is DOJ Special Counsel Jack Smith?

Former DOJ Prosecutor Jack Smith at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers court in The Hague, Netherlands, Nov. 9, 2020. Attorney General Merrick Garland named Smith a special counsel on Friday to oversee two investigations involving Donald Trump.
Jerry Lampen
Former DOJ Prosecutor Jack Smith at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers court in The Hague, Netherlands, Nov. 9, 2020. Attorney General Merrick Garland named Smith a special counsel on Friday to oversee two investigations involving Donald Trump.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said he's charged former Justice Department prosecutor Jack Smith with overseeing two major Justice Department investigations concerning former-President Donald Trump to best serve the public interest.

Smith will be in charge of supervising the criminal investigation into whether or not an individual or entity interfered with the transfer of power after the 2020 presidential election as well as the probe into whether classified records and documents taken from Trump's Florida home.

The announcement comes three days after Trump launched his third run for the White House.

In announcing Smith's appointment, Garland called Smith "the right choice to complete these matters in an even-handed and urgent manner." Here, a look at Smith's background and career.

He most recently investigated war crimes

Smith most recently worked at the International Criminal Court at The Hague in the Netherlands, investigating and prosecuting war crimes. The DOJ said Smith conducted "sensitive investigations" of foreign government officials and militia members on charges related to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

From 2008 to 2010, he had served as the investigation coordinator in the International Criminal Court prosecutor's office.

Smith served as head of the DOJ's public integrity unit

From 2010 to 2015, Smith served as the head of the DOJ's public integrity unit, which oversees investigations and prosecution of federal crimes affecting government integrity, according to the DOJ. This includes tackling cases like bribing government officials and election crimes, investigating and prosecuting elected and appointed officials of all levels.

In 2015 Smith and his team prosecuted Virginia's former governor, Robert McDonnell, on a series of corruption charges. That same year they prosecuted former CIA officerJeffrey Sterling for leaking classified information and obstruction of justice.

He spent nearly a decade with the U.S. Attorney's Office

Smith spent a total of nine years in assorted positions at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York. He served as chief of criminal litigation and deputy chief of the criminal division, according to the DOJ, where he supervised approximately 100 criminal prosecutors in cases including violent and gang crimes, white collar and financial fraud and public corruption.

Smith had other noteworthy roles and assignments

After leaving the DOJ in 2015, Smith headed to Tennessee, where he served as the First Assistant United States Attorney and Acting United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee.

From there, he went to the private sector, serving as the vice president and head of litigation for the Hospital Corporation of America; the nation's largest non-government health care providers, according to the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor's office.

Smith has received more than a handful of awards over the course of his career, including the Director's Award from the Department of Justice, the Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service, the Federal Bar Association's Younger Federal Attorney Award, the Eastern District Association's Charles Rose Award and the Henry L. Stimson Medal by New York County Bar Association.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Dustin Jones is a reporter for NPR's digital news desk. He mainly covers breaking news, but enjoys working on long-form narrative pieces.

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