Jack Smith, the special counsel announced by Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday to oversee the criminal investigations into the retention of classified documents at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and parts of the January 6, 2021, insurrection, has been a longtime Justice Department prosecutor.
In a statement following his announcement, Smith pledged to conduct the investigations “independently and in the best traditions of the Department of Justice.
“The pace of the investigations will not pause or flag under my watch. I will exercise independent judgment and will move the investigations forward expeditiously and thoroughly to whatever outcome the facts and the law dictate,” Smith said.
Smith began his career as an assistant district attorney with the New York County District Attorney’s Office in 1994. He joined the Eastern District of New York in 1999 as an assistant US attorney, where he prosecuted cases including civil rights violations and police officers murdered by gangs, according to the Justice Department.
Beginning in 2008, he worked for the International Criminal Court and oversaw war crimes investigations under the Office of the Prosecutor for two years. In 2010, he became chief of the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department, where he oversaw litigation of public corruption cases before being appointed first assistant US attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee in 2015.
Smith took over as acting US Attorney when David Rivera departed in early 2017 before leaving the Justice Department later that year and becoming vice president of litigation for the Hospital Corporation of America. In 2018, he became chief prosecutor for the special court in The Hague, where he investigated war crimes in Kosovo.
“Throughout his career, Jack Smith has built a reputation as an impartial and determined prosecutor, who leads teams with energy and focus to follow the facts wherever they lead,” Garland said during the announcement on Friday. “Mr. Smith is the right choice to complete these matters in an even-handed and urgent manner.”
This story has been updated with additional background information.