By Catherine Yang
Republican members of Congress have sent a letter asking Attorney General Merrick Garland to release the conflict-of-interest review of special counsel Jack Smith.
“Mr. Smith has a history of questionable political prosecutions,” wrote Rep. Eric Burlison (R-Mo.) in the Wednesday letter signed by eight other representatives.
Mr. Smith was appointed special counsel last November to investigate former President Donald Trump, and is heading both the Mar-a-Lago case in which Mr. Trump has been indicted, and the probe into the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach and surrounding events.
Mr. Trump last week announced he’d received a letter informing him he was a target of this Jan. 6 investigation that has already resulted in more than 1,000 charged, and just today wrote on social media that his lawyers have met with Department of Justice (DOJ) investigators and that, contrary to many news reports, he was not told to expect an indictment. The grand jury reportedly convened this morning.
Prior to Mr. Smith’s appointment, it would have been standard procedure to do a background check and review of the special counsel’s “ethics and conflicts of interest,” the letter states, citing a statute. “We request that you provide us with unredacted copies of all documents related to the conflicts of interest review that was conducted prior to Smith’s appointment, including any reports that were prepared as a part of the review by Friday, August 4, 2023,” reads the letter, which was first obtained by The Daily Caller.
The letter goes on to call into question Mr. Smiths prosecution former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, “which was unanimously overturned by the Supreme Court.”
Mr. McDonnell had been sentenced to two years in prison for accepting bribes in 2015. In 2016 the Supreme Court overturned the conviction, ruling that the prosecutors used a “boundless interpretation of the federal bribery statute.”
“A more limited interpretation of the term ‘official act’ leaves ample room for prosecuting corruption, while comporting with the text of the statute and the precedent of this Court,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. “Setting up a meeting, calling another public official, or hosting an event does not, standing alone, qualify as an ‘official act.’”
“Conscientious public officials arrange meetings for constituents, contact other officials on their behalf, and include them in events all the time. The basic compact underlying representative government assumes that public officials will hear from their constituents and act appropriately on their concerns—whether it is the union official worried about a plant closing or the homeowners who wonder why it took five days to restore power to their neighborhood after a storm,” Roberts wrote.
The letter also points out that Mr. Smith’s wife, Katy Chevigny, “produced a documentary about former First Lady Michelle Obama and donated to President [Joe] Biden’s 2020 campaign, raising concerns about potential conflicts of interest for Mr. Smith.” Ms. Chevigny had donated $1,000 twice to Mr. Biden’s campaign in 2020.
“We hope that you, in compliance with DOJ regulations, conducted the required review of potential conflicts of interest prior to Mr. Smith’s appointment. In order for the American people to have confidence in Mr. Smith’s investigation, it is vital that you release the information associated with the investigation of Mr. Smith’s potential conflicts of interest,” the letter reads.
Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Bill Posey (R-Fla.), Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.), Josh Brecheen (R-Okla.), Matthew Rosendale Sr. (R-Mont.), Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.), Alex Mooney (R-W. Va.), and Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) joined Mr. Burlison in signing the letter.
Reports of the Jan. 6 grand jury meeting emerged Thursday morning as jurors were seen entering a courthouse, and news reports of Mr. Trump’s lawyers being informed of an indictment that could come as soon as that day followed. The lawyers were seen leaving before noon, and by around 1 p.m. Mr. Trump had taken to social media to dispell the rumors.
“My attorneys had a productive meeting with the DOJ this morning, explaining in detail that I did nothing wrong, was advised by many lawyers, and that an Indictment of me would only further destroy our Country. No indication of notice was given during the meeting—Do not trust the Fake News on anything!” he wrote.
Mr. Trump has claimed the latest investigation is “election interference” on the part of the Biden administration, which has stayed quiet on the topic. When he announced the letter stating he was a target of this latest investigation, he wrote that a grand jury “almost always means an Arrest and Indictment.” He has already pleaded not guilty in one case related to falsifying business records, and another related to classified documents.
“We’ll have fun on the stand with all of these people that say the Presidential Election wasn’t Rigged and Stollen. THE TRIAL OF THE CENTURY!!!” Mr. Trump wrote.