Rep. Gaetz accused Special Counsel Smith of election interference in hasty prosecution of Trump, calls for DOJ internal investigation

 March 7, 2024

Special Counsel Jack Smith has been trying to hurry along the process of his federal prosecutions against former President Donald Trump, and while Smith hasn't ever explicitly mentioned the 2024 presidential election in November, it is abundantly clear to observers across the ideological spectrum that Smith wants to see Trump prosecuted, convicted, and perhaps even sentenced before voters cast their ballots.

That would likely constitute election interference, and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a staunch Trump ally, just called upon the Justice Department's inspector general to investigate whether Smith has violated a DOJ prohibition against prosecutorial actions that interfere in elections, The Hill reported.

The claim from Gaetz echoes the longstanding and oft-repeated complaint from Trump that Smith and the DOJ, at the bidding of President Joe Biden, are attempting to interfere on behalf of Biden in the upcoming election with an intent to prevent him, the likely Republican nominee, from winning that contest and returning to the presidency.

Smith's rush to prosecute Trump appears to violate DOJ rule against election interference

"The witch hunt against President Trump by Attorney General Garland and Special Counsel Smith is a partisan exercise, and the American people know it," Rep. Gaetz said in a statement on Wednesday that announced the filing of a formal complaint about Special Counsel Smith with DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

"The actions of the Special Counsel Smith to speed up the trial against President Trump violate the DOJ’s rules and the law," the Florida congressman added. "His public comments and his office’s briefs before the Supreme Court demonstrate that he has no reason for his actions other than to unlawfully interfere in the 2024 presidential election."

The Hill acknowledged that Smith has on several occasions urged rapidity by the courts -- including district courts, circuit courts, and the Supreme Court -- in handling various pre-trial motions and appeals intending to avoid any further delays in the trials he seeks to commence against former President Trump.

Indeed, the 2020 election-related prosecution of Trump was initially scheduled to begin this week but has been indefinitely delayed while the Supreme Court considers Trump's claim of presidential immunity. Meanwhile, the classified documents case is tentatively scheduled to begin in May, but will also likely be delayed for an indefinite period due to the complexity of the case and for a variety of other reasons.

Why won't Smith explain the reason for his urging for speed in prosecuting Trump?

In his letter to DOJ IG Horowitz, Rep. Gaetz noted that the "election season" is already in full swing and asserted that Special Counsel Smith's actions and words appeared to violate a DOJ rule that prohibits certain prosecutorial actions that might interfere with an upcoming election.

That DOJ rule, which applies to Smith the same as any other federal prosecutor, states: "Law enforcement officers and prosecutors may never select the timing of public statements (attributed or not), investigative steps, criminal charges, or any other action in any matter or case for the purpose of affecting any election, or for the purpose of giving an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party. Such a purpose, or the appearance of such a purpose, is inconsistent with the Department's mission and with the Principles of Federal Prosecution."

As just one example of the alleged violation, Gaetz pointed to Smith's recent brief filed with the Supreme Court that urged a "rapid" review of former President Trump's immunity claim and cited a great "public importance" of a swift conclusion to the matter, albeit without directly explaining why such haste was necessary.

"Were there a legitimate, non-election related purpose for this request, these attorneys, who have filed in appeals courts many times, would have listed such," Gaetz wrote. "Since charges have been filed and the defendant himself is taking a legal position on timing and lodging various appeals, that justification cannot, for example, be the rights of the defendant under the Constitution or Speedy Trial Act."

"So, there can be only one conclusion: Special Counsel Jack Smith sees it as of paramount importance to hold a trial before the November 2024 election, but he is unable to explicitly say so, as such a justification is in violation of Departmental policy and law," the congressman asserted.

Smith should be investigated to determine his true purpose in "expediting" the prosecution of Trump

Rep. Gaetz proceeded to note how even Trump-hating legal analysts had called out Special Counsel Smith's overt but unstated rush to prosecute former President Trump before November's election as an apparent violation of the DOJ's election interference rule and reminded IG Horowitz of his "statutory mission" to investigate this and other alleged violations of DOJ policies and regulations.

"The precise scope of an investigation may be as narrow as interviewing the Special Counsel, and determining that he has a lawful purpose in seeking the expediting of his case against Donald Trump, and determining that he did not have the purpose of keying a trial date to the election calendar. Or it may be wider," Gaetz's letter concluded. "Please alert my office of any developments in this matter."

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