On November 18, 2022, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Jack Smith, a long time federal prosecutor, as special counsel to lead two criminal investigations involving former President Donald Trump. Mr. Garland made that announcement after Donald Trump announced his third run for president. A special counsel is a semi-independent federal prosecutor who oversees criminal investigations where there may be an appearance of a conflict of interest for the Justice Department, or when there is some other reason that it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside prosecutor. In this case, the Justice Department wants to avoid the appearance of impropriety, as it appears that both former President Trump and current President Biden will be running for president in 2024.Special counsels have the same powers as federal prosecutors to conduct investigations, including the power to subpoena witnesses and documents, and they remain subject to oversight by U.S. Attorney General. However, a special counsel cannot be arbitrarily fired, they are only subject to removal if they commit misconduct.
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