Justice Department appoints independent prosecutor for Trump investigation

Justice Department appoints independent prosecutor for Trump investigation


US Attorney General Merrick Garland plans to appoint an independent prosecutor to oversee the criminal investigation into Donald Trump on Friday, three days after the former president announced a new candidacy for the White House in 2024.

The move would raise the prospect of a protracted legal battle, with Trump likely to claim he is being targeted by the Joe Biden administration to prevent him from winning back the presidency.

The Wall Street Journal and other US media said Garland would hold a news conference Friday afternoon to announce the name of the special counsel who would decide whether to indict the former Republican president.

Trump is the target of several Justice Department investigations.

He is being investigated for his role in last year’s attack on the US Capitol, his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and the keeping of classified documents at his residence in Mar-a-Lago, Florida.

In addition, New York State Attorney General Letitia James has filed a civil complaint against Trump and three of his children, accusing them of business fraud.

Trump, who says he is a victim of political persecution, has not been charged with a crime.

But his entry into the White House race on Tuesday makes the impeachment against him a much more sensitive issue.

Appointing a special counsel to oversee the investigation would help isolate Garland, a representative for Democrat Biden, from allegations that the investigation was politically motivated.

The Special Counsel would continue to report to the Attorney General, who would have the final say on whether charges should be filed.

Even if he is impeached, Trump can still run for president — nothing in US law prevents a person charged or convicted of a crime from doing so.

During his tenure, Trump was investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for obstruction of justice and possible electoral collusion with Russia, but no charges were brought against him.

Trump’s unusually early announcement that he would run for president again in 2024 was seen by some analysts in Washington as an attempt to ward off possible criminal charges.

Trump, 76, was impeached by the House of Representatives in 2019 for seeking political dirt on Biden from Ukraine and again after his supporters’ attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, but acquitted by the Senate.

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