Attorney General Merrick Garland defended special counsel Jack Smith on Wednesday as a “veteran career prosecutor” who “assembled a group of experienced and talented prosecutors and agents who share his commitment to integrity and the rule of law.”
Although he avoided discussing the issue explicitly, Garland’s remarks—his first in public on the former president’s indictment—came as Trump referred to Smith as a “deranged lunatic,” “thug,” and “raging and uncontrolled Trump hater.”
At the beginning of a meeting with U.S. attorneys at the Department of Justice, Garland informed reporters, “As you know, I can’t talk about the specifics of this or any other ongoing criminal matter.”
The appointment of Mr. Smith, the attorney general said, “underscores the Justice Department’s commitment to both independence and accountability.
In response to Smith’s 37-count indictment regarding the former president’s handling of sensitive material after leaving office, Trump entered a not-guilty plea on Tuesday.
“The prosecutor in the case—which I will refer to as ‘our case’—is a thug. ‘Deranged Jack Smith,’ I have given him the name. Trump claimed in an address provided from his Bedminster, New Jersey residence. He works in the background, but his track record is appalling. He does political hit pieces.
He and his wife, who just so happened to have produced that Michelle Obama propaganda piece, are irrational and uncontrollable Trump haters. This is the man I have,” Trump declared.
The first indictment against a former president in American history sets up a legal conflict that will probably unfold over the next months as Trump runs for re-election in November 2024.