U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to oversee two ongoing criminal investigations into former President Donald Trump. The move was made to help ease concerns that the investigations are partisan in nature and avoid any conflict of interest over the decision on whether charges should be filed.
Garland said veteran prosecutor Jack Smith will handle the investigations and make the decision whether to file charges against Trump.
"Throughout his career, Jack Smith has built a reputation as an impartial and determined prosecutor who leads teams with energy and focus to follow the facts wherever they lead," Garland said. "As special counsel, he will exercise independent prosecutorial judgment to decide whether charges should be brought."
The White House said it was not involved in the decision-making process to appoint a special counsel.
"DOJ makes decisions about its criminal investigations independently, and we are not involved," an official told NBC News.
Trump is facing several investigations, including a criminal probe into whether he illegally took classified documents when he left the White House at the end of his term. He is also under investigation for possible obstruction over his role in the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
The announcement comes just three days after Trump announced he would be running for president in 2024.