Trump attacks newly-appointed special counsel in Mar-a-Lago speech

Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 8:10 PM EST
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Former President Donald Trump spoke Friday night at Mar-a-Lago and voiced his grievances on a variety of topics, including a new special counsel appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Trump posted on his Truth Social account earlier in the day that he is under a "never ending Witch Hunt."

The special counsel will oversee the Department of Justice’s investigation into the presence of classified documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, as well as key aspects of a separate probe involving the Jan. 6 insurrection and efforts to undo the 2020 election.

Garland said Friday that Trump's announcement of his presidential candidacy and President Joe Biden's likely 2024 run were factors in his decision to appoint Jack Smith, a veteran prosecutor, to be the special counsel.

Insisting that he had "done nothing wrong," Trump called Smith a "super radical left special counsel."

"This is a rigged deal, just as the 2020 election was rigged, and we can't let them get away with it," Trump said. "We cannot let this happen to our country."

The former president also attacked Biden, calling him a "corrupt and incompetent political hack" while also saying that the president's son, Hunter Biden, is a "corrupt drug addict."

"Where's their special prosecutor?" Trump asked. "We are innocent. They are not innocent."

He also said Garland's appointment of a special counsel was a "horrendous abuse of power."

Trump on Friday called the probe into the classified documents seized at Mar-a-Lago in August a "hoax" and "witch hunt," invoking Hillary Clinton and other former presidents.

"You people have to fight, you have to fight," Trump said to his audience. "You have to be strong."

The former president did not take any questions after his speech, which was held at a black-tie America First Policy Institute gala.

Friday’s speech comes after Trump announced Tuesday that he will run for president again in 2024.

The Mar-a-Lago probe has escalated especially quickly, with prosecutors this month granting immunity to a close Trump ally to secure his testimony before a federal grand jury. Investigators in that case have interviewed a broad range of witnesses and, in court filings, have cited legal concerns over the presence of top-secret materials in Mar-a-Lago despite strict procedures that govern the handling of classified information. They've also alleged efforts to obstruct that probe.

In his role as special counsel, Smith will be empowered to decide whether charges should be brought as part of his investigations and to prosecute any crimes he uncovers. Though Garland as attorney general would retain ultimate oversight of his work, he stressed the independent decision-making that Smith will bring to bear on the job.

The selection of someone from outside the department for the special counsel role was notable given how much emphasis Garland has placed on trying to ensure public confidence in his own workforce of prosecutors following the tumultuous years of the Trump administration, and to reassure Americans that his prosecutors' decisions are based on facts, the evidence and the law and can therefore be trusted.

Portions of this article courtesy of the Associated Press

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