Attorney General Merrick Garland is facing a question about why he did not intervene in the probe of former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents.
NPR’s Carrie Johnson asked Garland on Wednesday about when he learned Special Counsel Jack Smith was moving toward charging Trump.
She added, “And why did you choose not to stop him as was in your power?”
“So, as you know, I can’t talk about the particulars of this or any other ongoing criminal matter. As I said when I appointed Mr. Smith, I did so because it underscores the Justice Department’s commitment to both independence and accountability,” the attorney general responded.
He added, “Mr. Smith is a veteran career prosecutor. He has assembled a group of experienced and talented prosecutors and agents who share his commitment to integrity and the rule of law. Any questions about this matter will have to be answered by their filings in court.”
Watch the video below:
AG Garland, when asked why he didn’t stop Special Counsel Jack Smith’s classified documents probe into Trump:— The Recount (@therecount) June 14, 2023
“Mr. Smith is a veteran career prosecutor. He has assembled a group of experienced and talented prosecutors… who share his commitment to integrity and the rule of law.” pic.twitter.com/LeqRyGtkMl
Another reporter asked Garland if he could provide a “very clear sense of what exactly your role was in the indictment process.”
“My role has been completely consistent with the regulations that set forth the responsibilities of the attorney general under the special counsel regulations, and I followed those regulations,” he responded.
AG Garland on prosecuting Biden's 2024 opponent: "My role has been completely consistent with the regulations that set forth the responsibilities of the attorney general under the special counsel regulations, and I followed those regulations." pic.twitter.com/pag4NrTuqc— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) June 14, 2023
Garland declined to address why the Justice Department believed indicting Trump was the right decision.
Smith hit Trump with 37 charges in the case, including 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information, one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, one count of corruptly concealing a document or record, one count of concealing a document in a federal investigation, and one count related to making false statements.
The indictment states, “The classified documents Trump stored in his boxes included information regarding defense and weapons capabilities of both the United States and foreign countries; United States nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack.”
“The unauthorized disclosure of these classified documents could put at risk the national security of the United States, foreign relations, the safety of the United States military, and human sources and the continued viability of sensitive intelligence collection methods,” it added.
Trump has claimed he is an “innocent man.”
He entered a plea of not guilty on Tuesday.