By Gary Bai
Three House Republican lawmakers on Friday asked Special Counsel Jack Smith to turn over documents related to his criminal indictments of former President Donald Trump, alleging that Mr. Smith has a political motivation in pursuing these indictments.
“The Committee is concerned your unprecedented investigation and fervent prosecution of President Trump is not about any true commitment to equal justice under the law, but an increasingly contrived attempt to use the criminal justice system to defame the former president before the 2024 Presidential election,” reads the Dec. 1 letter addressed to Mr. Smith, signed by Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), chair of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.), and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. The House Oversight Committee has jurisdiction to conduct investigative oversight over the Department of Justice (DOJ) and make laws to influence the agency’s actions.
The Republican lawmakers demanded that the special prosecutor hand over documents related to Mr. Smith’s authority to offer immunity to witnesses and impanel a grand jury, as well as any communications that could speak to any oversight from the Department of Justice concerning Mr. Smith’s decision to indict President Trump.
Mr. Smith is heading two federal criminal indictments targeting President Trump; one related to the former president’s handling of classified documents and alleged obstruction of justice, and another related to the former president’s alleged attempt at overturning the 2020 election. President Trump has pleaded not guilty in both cases.
In their letter asking for these documents, the lawmakers questioned Mr. Smith’s prosecutorial discretion in bringing general conspiracy charges against President Trump, suggesting that Mr. Smith has adopted an overly liberal interpretation of the law; they reasoned that the U.S Supreme Court “has consistently overturned criminal convictions against public officials and private parties based on broad theories of prosecution brought under general criminal statutes.”
Friday’s request for information echoes allegations of political weaponization that the Republicans have levied at the DOJ under the Biden administration, amid three investigations—of President Trump, President Joe Biden, and President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden—conducted by special counsels who operate nominally independent from the DOJ.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, who heads the DOJ and appointed the three special counsels to avoid appearances of a conflict of interest for President Biden, has maintained in response to the Republicans’ criticisms that the DOJ has not interfered in these special counsel investigations.
Earlier this year, House Republican lawmakers have on at least two separate occasions—once in June and again in September—requested information related to Mr. Smith’s cases against President Trump. Mr. Smith’s office has not responded publicly to the Republican lawmakers’ inquiries to date.
Should Mr. Smith fail to give “any meaningful response” to the inquiries, the lawmakers wrote in their Friday letter, they “will consider the use of compulsory process,” apparently referring to the Committee’s House subpoena power.
Other House Republicans, acting on the allegation that Mr. Smith is attempting to interfere with the 2024 presidential election in prosecuting Trump, have introduced legislation that proposes to use the House’s power of the purse to restrict Mr. Smith’s funding or salary.
That bill, titled “Yanking Outlays for an Unethical, Ruthless Enterprise that Fraudulently Impedes Robust Electoral Debate”—short for the “YOU’RE FIRED” Act—is pending before the House Judiciary Committee.
The Department of Justice and the House Oversight Committee did not return a request for comment by press time.