Attorneys for former President Donald Trump on Tuesday asked for a meeting with the country's top law enforcement official to discuss what they allege as "baseless" investigations into the former president by a special counsel.
As the Trump team’s latest response to one of Trump’s legal challenges, the lawyers requested a meeting with Garland "at your earliest convenience to discuss the ongoing injustice that is being perpetrated by your Special Counsel and his prosecutors."
Garland appointed special counsel Jack Smith in November 2022—days after Trump announced his candidacy for 2024—to handle two investigations: one into Trump’s handling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago property and another into Trump’s alleged interference with the transfer of power after the last presidential election.
A spokesperson from Smith's office declined to comment.
Recent DOJ-appointed special counsels include Robert Mueller, whose work led to the guilty plea of former national security adviser Michael Flynn in 2017, and John Durham, who probed the origin of the FBI’s investigation into alleged collusion between Trump and Russian entities during the 2016 elections.
Both of Smith's investigations are conducted behind closed doors. Trump’s attorneys did not specify which investigation they are seeking to discuss with Garland.
According to Anthony Coley, a former spokesperson for Garland, it is unlikely that the top Department of Justice (DOJ) official will grant the request of Trump’s lawyers.
The 2020 Elections ProbeIn Trump’s case, Smith has been looking into “whether any person or entity unlawfully interfered with the transfer of power following the 2020 presidential election, or with the certification of the Electoral College vote held on or about January 6, 2021,” according to a DOJ statement published in November 2022.
One aspect of Smith’s case could include a potential incitement charge against Trump, Jared Carter, a professor at Vermont Law School, told The Epoch Times in an interview.
He also said, “We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
According to Carter, the incitement charge would be difficult for Smith to bring because of the First Amendment’s broad protection of speech.
“That’s a high burden for the government to meet—and, I think, rightfully so—we want robust political speech,” Carter said. “We don’t want politicians to self-censor.
Classified Documents InvestigationSmith is also investigating the former president's handling of classified documents after leaving office in January 2021, as well as "possible obstruction" of the DOJ's investigation in that case, according to a DOJ statement.
They include 18 U.S.C. §793—mishandling defense information, §1519—record alteration or destruction with the intention to obstruct an investigation, and §2071—alteration or destruction of public records.
Trump, in statements made on Truth Social, defended his conduct by saying that the documents were protected by executive privilege, or the inherent presidential privilege to withhold information from the public; the presidential authority to declassify documents; and attorney-client privilege.
Smith took over this investigation when he was appointed DOJ special counsel in November 2022.
According to trial attorney John O’Connor, Smith could shape the case around a charge involving an obstruction of justice which would require proving Trump’s intention to knowingly affect the availability or quality of evidence during an official investigation.
“If the government can prove that Trump took efforts to hide documents from the government, in order that the government does not seize them, then there is a potential obstruction of justice, and false statements charge against Trump,” O’Connor told The Epoch Times in an interview.
“So, the proof in that pudding would have to be some statement by an underling that Trump told him or her to move documents in order to hide them from authorities,” he added. “And if any of them say, ‘Yes, Trump told me that he didn’t want this or that classified record seized, and he wanted me to bring it to another room or put it in a separate box,’ or something like that–I think you’ve got a cross.
“If I were Jack Smith, that’s where I would go on this,” O’Connor said. “I would talk to the underlings, a lot of whom, apparently, are talking.”
But according to O’Connor, the political leanings of the prosecutors mean that the agency would treat the two cases differently.
“I suspect that there will be a soft-ball handling of [the Biden] documents case, even though to me, it seems pretty clear that he had the motive to keep the very important documents he kept, which were presidential briefing,” the attorney said. “They’re the best and juiciest classified documents one can get.
“I’m convinced that his greatest vulnerability is at the Mar-a-Lago situation,” O’Connor said of Trump.