Biden tells press he learned about Trump’s special counsel ‘when you did’ amid flurry of Republican attacks that his Department of Justice is politicized
- Veteran prosecutor Jack Smith was named special counsel last week
- He takes over the criminal investigations into former President Donald Trump
- Republicans accused Biden of weaponizing the Department of Justice
- But on Monday the president said he had no advance knowledge of the move
- ‘I learned about when you did,’ he told members of the press at the White House
President Joe Biden said Monday he had no forewarning that the Justice Department would appoint a special counsel to take over its investigations of former President Donald Trump.
Trump and his allies immediately condemned the appointment of veteran prosecutor Jack Smith, and Republicans said the investigation was politicized.
After pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey at the White House, Biden was asked about the move.
‘I learned about when you did,’ he told members of the press.
On Friday, his attorney general, Merrick Garland, announced he was appointing a special counsel to take over two criminal investigations into Trump.
President Joe Biden told reporters on Monday that he found out about the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Trump at the same time that they did
Veteran prosecutor Jack Smith was named special counsel last week to take over investigations into former President Donald Trump, three days after he announced a 2024 run
Garland said he had acted because Trump had announced a run for president, and that a special counsel would ensure the impartiality of the investigations.
That did nothing to deter Republican attacks, however, as critics of the Biden administration accused him of deliberately setting the Department of Justice on Trump.
Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted: ‘Joe Biden has completely weaponized the Department of Justice to attack his political opponents. 3 days ago, Trump announced and now a special counsel.
‘This is Trump derangement syndrome but this time with a gun and badge.’
Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel wrote on Twitter: ‘We’ve seen this time and again: Biden weaponizes his administration to target his political opponents.
‘Whether it’s the former president, pro-life organizations, tagging parents as domestic terrorists, or creating the “ministry of truth,” Biden is out of line and out of control.’
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that he was appointing a special counsel after Trump said last week that he was launching a 2024 presidential election campaign
Trump led the chorus of outrage.
‘I announce and then they appoint a special prosecutor,’ he told Fox News.
‘They found nothing, and now they take some guy who hates Trump. This is a disgrace and only happening because I am leading in every poll in both parties.’
Garland had earlier said that Trump’s run had led him to appoint a special counsel, but that it was a move designed to insulate the investigations from political considerations.
‘Based on recent developments, including the former president’s announcement that he is a candidate for president in the next election, and the sitting president’s stated intention to be a candidate as well, I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint a special counsel,’ said Garland.
‘Such an appointment underscores the department’s commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters.
‘It also allows prosecutors and agents to continue their work expeditiously, and to make decisions indisputably guided only by the facts and the law.’
It is the third special counsel appointed in five years amid investigations into Trump.
Such prosecutors typically have a high degree of independence to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
Former FBI director Robert Mueller was appointed in 2017 to oversee the federal investigation into Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and its contacts with Russia. In 2019, John Durham was appointed to investigate the origins of the FBI’s probe into Trump’s 2016 campaign.
List of legal issues Trump is STILL facing as he announces his 2024 run
Donald Trump is still facing a list of legal woes after formally announcing he will run for president for the third time in 2024.
Since he left office in January 2021, probes into his family business, his role in the Capitol Riot, and the trove of documents he took from the White House to Mar-a-Lago have piled up.
The former president has claimed the cases are politically-motivated witch hunts to try and take him down.
He chose now to announce his third run for the Oval Office to potentially clear out the list of Republican primary rivals – with Ron DeSantis hotly favored to join the race and others like Mike Pence and Glenn Youngkin in the list of possible candidates.
But it could also have been to get ahead of an indictment by the Department of Justice.
The DOJ could still charge Trump in one of the probes, but it is likely he will fire up his supporters by claiming President Biden is using law enforcement to go after his opponents.
However, he is still facing criminal and civil cases with his family business that could create financial obstacles during the campaign.
Earlier this month, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said the committee would stop paying his legal fees if he announced a 2024 run.
DailyMail.com has broken down the legal issues Trump is facing as he launches his presidential run.
The documents Trump took from the White House to Mar-a-Lago when he left office
The Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation into Trump for retaining government records, including some marked as classified, after leaving office in January 2021.
The FBI seized 11,000 documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida in a court-approved August 8 search, including about 100 marked as classified.
Some were designated top secret, the highest level of classified information.
The department began its investigation after the National Archives, the U.S. agency responsible for preserving government records, tried to get Trump to return missing government property and received 15 boxes with classified documents mixed in.
Trump has accused the Justice Department of engaging in a partisan witch hunt and claims the documents he took were part of his personal records and were declassified when he left office.
A so-called special master, Senior U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie, is reviewing the seized documents to determine whether any are protected by attorney-client privilege or by executive privilege, a legal doctrine under which a president can keep certain documents or information secret.
The Justice Department is also asking a federal appeals court to end that review and to let them access unclassified materials taken in the search, arguing that both measures are hindering their criminal investigation.
The Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation into Trump for retaining government records, including some marked as classified, after leaving office in January 2021
New York Attorney General Letitia James’ $250million civil suit claiming Trump inflated property values to mislead banks and investors
New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a civil lawsuit filed last month that her office uncovered more than 200 examples of misleading asset valuations by Trump and the Trump Organization between 2011 and 2021.
James accused Trump of inflating his net worth by billions of dollars to satisfy loan terms and get better insurance coverage.
Mar-a-Lago was valued as high as $739 million when it should have been closed to $75 million, the 200-page lawsuit against the Trump Organization claims.
James is seeking to permanently bar Trump, his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump and his daughter Ivanka Trump from running companies in New York state, and to prevent them and his company from buying new properties and taking out new loans in the state for five years.
James is also seeking to have the defendants disgorge around $250 million that she described as obtained through fraud.
After James announced the lawsuit, Trump in a social media post called the action ‘Another Witch Hunt.’
A lawyer for Trump called the lawsuit’s claims ‘meritless.’
James said her probe also uncovered evidence of criminal wrongdoing, which she referred to federal prosecutors and the Internal Revenue Service for investigation.
Mar-a-Lago was valued as high as $739 million when it should have been closed to $75 million, the 200-page lawsuit against the Trump Organization claims
New York criminal probe into Trump Organization’s ‘tax-free perks’ to top executives
The Trump Organization is on trial in New York on criminal tax fraud charges.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office last year accused the Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corp. of giving executives tax-free perks such as rent-free apartments, school tuition feeds and leased luxury cars.
Its former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, also named as a defendant in the James lawsuit, has pleaded guilty and is required to testify against the company as part of his agreement with prosecutors.
Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, has also been investigating whether Trump misled lenders and others about asset valuations.
Trump has denied wrongdoing and called the probe politically motivated.
E. Jean Carroll’s defamation case over rape allegations from the 1990s
E. Jean Carroll, a former Elle magazine writer, sued Trump for defamation in 2019 after he denied her allegation that he raped her in the 1990s in a New York City department store.
Trump accused her of lying to drum up sales for a book.
Trump appeared on Wednesday for a deposition in the case, according to his and Carroll’s lawyers.
In a letter made public on Sept. 20, a lawyer for Carroll said she also plans to sue Trump for battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress under a new state law in New York giving adult accusers a one-year window to bring civil claims over alleged civil misconduct regardless of when it occurred.
A lawyer for Trump has argued that he is protected by a federal law that makes government employees immune from defamation claims. Trump was president at the time the lawsuit was filed.
The Manhattan-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said last month that Trump was a federal employee when he called Carroll a liar, but left open the question of whether he was acting as president when he made the statement to a Washington, D.C., appeals court.
E. Jean Carroll, a former Elle magazine writer, sued Trump for defamation in 2019 after he denied her allegation that he raped her in the 1990s in a New York City department store
The January 6 committee’s investigation into the Capitol Riot
A House of Representatives committee investigating the January 6, 2021, assault by Trump supporters on the U.S. Capitol is investigating whether he broke the law in actions taken to try to overturn his 2020 election defeat.
The rioters sought to block Congress from certifying the election results.
The committee unanimously voted in October to subpoena Trump as part of its probe.
Trump sued the committee on November 11 to challenge the subpoena by questioning the legitimacy of the committee and suggesting he has immunity from testifying about his conduct while he was president.
On Monday night the committee said Trump had ‘failed to comply’ with the subpoena for documents and testimony from that day.
‘In the days ahead, the committee will evaluate next steps in the litigation and regarding the former President’s noncompliance,’ Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson and GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, who serve as chair and vice chair of the committee respectively, said in a statement.
Trump could face a misdemeanor charge if he does not comply. The former president could also challenge it in court, as he has done with other subpoenas, which would likely tie the matter up in litigation until the committee concludes its work.
Committee vice chair Liz Cheney has said the committee could make multiple referrals to the Justice Department seeking criminal charges against Trump, who has accused the panel of conducting a politically motivated sham investigation.
The committee cannot charge Trump with federal crimes. That decision must be made by the Justice Department, led by Attorney General Merrick Garland. The panel is expected to issue a written report on its findings in the coming weeks.
A House of Representatives committee investigating the January 6, 2021, assault by Trump supporters on the U.S. Capitol is investigating whether he broke the law in actions taken to try to overturn his 2020 election defeat
Georgia’s criminal probe into efforts to overturn the 2020 election
A special grand jury was selected in May to consider evidence in a Georgia prosecutor’s inquiry into Trump’s alleged efforts to influence that state’s 2020 election results.
The investigation focuses in part on a phone call Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, on Jan. 2, 2021. Trump asked Raffensperger to ‘find’ the votes needed to overturn Trump’s election loss.
Legal experts said Trump may have violated at least three Georgia criminal election laws: conspiracy to commit election fraud, criminal solicitation to commit election fraud and intentional interference with performance of election duties.
Trump could argue he was engaging in constitutionally protected free speech.
A California federal judge said in October in a separate lawsuit that Trump had knowingly made false voter fraud claims in a Georgia election lawsuit, according to emails the judge reviewed. It is not immediately clear what ramifications Trump could face from the ruling.