GOP rep. Gaetz calls for DOJ inspector general to investigate Special Counsel Smith over alleged election interference with anti-Trump prosecutions

 March 8, 2024

Former President Donald Trump has often and repeatedly accused Special Counsel Jack Smith of engaging in election interference on behalf of President Joe Biden with his two criminal indictments that Smith is trying to push to trial, if not also convictions and sentencing, before voters cast their ballots in November.

Now that election interference accusation has been formally put forward in a complaint filed by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) with Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz that calls for an internal DOJ investigation against Smith, The Hill reported.

In the formal complaint, Gaetz, one of Trump's allies in Congress, asserted that the special counsel may be in violation of a DOJ regulation that generally prohibits prosecutorial actions ahead of an election if those actions might be perceived as interfering with or altering the results in favor of one candidate over another.

Gaetz alleges election interference by Special Counsel Smith

In the letter to IG Horowitz, Rep. Gaetz pointed to section 9-85.500 of the DOJ Manual, which applies to all federal prosecutors, including Special Counsel Smith, and 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," the provision added.

Gaetz went on to observe that Smith has, in multiple legal filings, including at the Supreme Court, frequently urged the courts to move with great haste in settling various pre-trial motions and appeals, such as former President Trump's claimed immunity from prosecution, and just as frequently has cited a great "public importance" that the cases against Trump be rapidly concluded, albeit without explicitly stating any reasons why such speed is 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.

IG Horowitz should investigate Smith's reasons for rapidity in Trump prosecutions

Rep. Gaetz went on to point out that numerous legal commentators from across the ideological spectrum, including those who oppose former President Trump, have called out Special Counsel Smith for his overt and readily apparent efforts to rush through his criminal prosecutions of Trump before the November election.

"It is indisputable that we are already in an election season. However, the Justice Manual does not set hard dates," he continued. It is the core of prohibited conduct that a purpose (not the purpose) of any official action of a prosecutor be to affect any election: it may be morally correct that the American people should see swift resolution of this case, perhaps with dropped charges or a Trump acquittal before the November 2024 Presidential election, but wielding Executive Branch authority in the service of this is a violation of law. Prosecutors must be held to a higher standard."

The Florida congressman reminded IG Horowitz that it was his "statutory mission" to investigate potential violations of DOJ policies and regulations, and further observed that the DOJ has been resistant to and uncooperative with outside efforts from Congress to initiate any such interbranch probes, which necessitates the IG's "immediate attention into compliance of the Office of Special Counsel Jack Smith with Departmental regulations, particularly related to investigatory and prosecutorial actions during an election season."

"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."

Smith's anti-Trump "witch hunt" intended to "unlawfully interfere" in the 2024 election

In a statement that accompanied the public release of the letter to IG Horowitz, Rep. Gaetz said, "The witch hunt against President Trump by Attorney General Garland and Special Counsel Smith is a partisan exercise, and the American people know it."

"The actions of the Special Counsel Smith to speed up the trial against President Trump violate the DOJ’s rules and the law," he 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."

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