Attorney general Merrick Garland appointed veteran prosecutor Jack Smith as the special counsel to lead the Justice Department probe into Donald Trump. The former president was previously probed for allegedly interfering with the presidential elections in 2016 with Russian aid by special counsel Robert Muller, former Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) chief.
At the end of the investigation, he submitted a report which could not establish that Trump conspired with Russia to interfere with the 2016 elections. The report, however, claimed that Trump had tried to obstruct the course of the investigation several times, and it could not ultimately exonerate the former president.
Jack Smith’s appointment is significantly different from Muller’s as Trump is no longer the sitting president, and thus he is not immune to indictment as per US legal guidelines. Smith is also expected to finish the investigation fast as he does not have the onus of unearthing raw evidence as in Mueller’s case.
Notably, the appointment of Smith comes just four days after the former president announced his bid to rerun for president in 2024.
Who is Robert Mueller?
A Princeton and New York University alumnus, he has served as a Marine Corps officer in Vietnam and was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for valour. He then went on to attend the University of Virginia School of Law.
Mueller was raised in Princeton, New Jersey, and went to what is now known as Princeton Day School (formerly known as Princeton Country Day School). His family relocated to Philadelphia after Mueller finished eighth grade, and he went on to St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, for high school.
Mueller practiced law at the San Francisco firm Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro until 1976 after earning his Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1973. After that, he worked in US Attorney offices for 12 years.
Mueller returned to public service after working as a partner at the Boston legal firm Hill and Barlow. He worked for the US Department of Justice in 1989 as acting deputy attorney general and assistant to attorney general Dick Thornburgh.
He was appointed the US Assistant Attorney General in 1990 and put in command of the Criminal Division of the US Department of Justice.
On July 5, 2001, President George W. Bush nominated Robert Mueller to lead the FBI. On August 2, 2001, the Senate confirmed Mueller’s nomination by a vote of 98-0.
Following his departure from the FBI in 2013, Mueller worked as a consultant professor and Arthur and Frank Payne distinguished lecturer at Stanford University, where he concentrated on cybersecurity-related topics.
He is married to Ann Cabell Standish, whom he met at a high school party when they were both 17. They have two daughters and three grandchildren.