Who is Jack Smith, the special counsel who filed Trump’s indictment?

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Jack Smith, the U.S. special counsel who brought a criminal case against former President Donald Trump for keeping classified government documents, has earned a reputation for winning tough trials against war criminals, crooked gangsters and cops.

Appointed last November by Attorney General Merrick Garland to take over two Justice Department investigations involving Trump, Smith has now made history as the first federal prosecutor — though not the first prosecutor — to secure an indictment against a current or former US president.

In April, Manhattan District Attorney Bragg charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records involving money paid to a porn star before the 2016 U.S. election.

According to his former colleagues, when Smith isn’t busy competing in Ironman swim-cycle-run triathlon races, he works as a hard-working investigator who is open-minded and unafraid to seek out the truth. They described him as just as tenacious in seeking to have the criminal charges dropped for the innocent as in securing the conviction of the guilty.

“If the matter is prosecutable, he will,” said Mark Lesko, an attorney with the firm Greenberg Traurig LLP who worked with Smith when the two were prosecutors in the US Attorney’s Office in New York. “He is fearless.”

This case is unlike any other Smith has brought because of who is accused. Trump served as president from 2017 to 2021 and is now seeking to return to the White House, leading a crowded field of candidates for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

One of the two investigations Smith took on involved Trump’s handling of classified documents he kept after leaving the White House in January 2021. The second looked at efforts to overturn US election results from 2020 that Trump lost, including a plot to submit fake voter lists to prevent Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden as the winner.

Grand juries in Washington have heard testimony from witnesses in recent months for both inquests.

Trump’s own attorney, Evan Corcoran, became a key witness in the investigation of the documents. Corcoran was forced to testify before a grand jury in March after a federal judge ruled that his conversations with Trump were not protected by a legal doctrine called attorney-client privilege – which protects the confidentiality of certain communications between lawyers and their clients — whether Trump’s comments were made in preparation for a crime.

The election interference investigation — in which former Vice President Mike Pence and others who have held high-level positions in the Trump administration have been subpoenaed — is still ongoing.


Smith, a Harvard Law School graduate who is not registered with any political party, started as a prosecutor in 1994 in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office under Robert Morgenthau, who was best known for prosecuting mob bosses.

“There was just a real emphasis, from Morgenthau down, on not just getting convictions,” said Todd Harrison, a McDermott Will & Emery attorney who worked with Smith in the Morgenthau’s office and later as a federal prosecutor.

“We were congratulated if we investigated something and demonstrated that the target of the investigation was innocent,” Harrison added.

In 1999, Smith began working at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn.

Smith was involved in the prosecution of Charles Schwarz, one of several former New York City police officers implicated in a high-profile police brutality case involving Abner Louima, an imprisoned black inmate who was assaulted by police with a broomstick .

Smith also won a murder conviction against Ronell Wilson, a drug gang leader who murdered two plainclothes police officers in New York City, although a federal appeals court overturned the death sentence verdict.

In 2008, Smith left to oversee war crimes prosecutions at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. He returned to the Department of Justice in 2010 to lead its Public Integrity Section until 2015.

More recently, Smith has returned to war crimes cases in The Hague, winning the conviction of Salih Mustafa, a former Kosovo Liberation Army commander who ran a prison where torture took place during the conflict. 1998-99 independence from Serbia.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; editing by Andy Sullivan and Will Dunham)

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