US Attorney General Merrick Garland said he agrees with Special Counsel Jack Smith’s request for a speedy trial in Donald Trump’s federal election interference case – citing an increased public interest ahead of the 2024 election.
In an interview with CNN this week, Mr Garland provided few, but firm, comments on the special counsel’s investigation and upcoming trial against Mr Trump related to the former president’s alleged involvement in conspiring and working to overturn the 2020 election results.
“The special prosecutor has said from the beginning that he thinks public interest requires a speedy trial, which I agree with,” Mr Garland said.
While facing criminal and civil trials, Mr Trump is also the 2024 Republican frontrunner.
He and his campaign have used the cases against him as leverage to appeal to potential voters by painting Mr Trump as innocent, unfairly targeted and a martyr.
“The matter is now in the hands of the trial judges to determine when the trials will take place,” Mr Garland said.
Mr Trump and Mr Smith were slated to go to trial on 4 March for his federal election interference trial – one of the most consequential cases he’s facing.
However, that date will likely be pushed back as the former president’s immunity appeal makes its way through the court system.
The appeal is one of many that Mr Trump’s legal team has invoked to delay or dismiss the case. The former president and his allies have been highly critical of Mr Smith, Mr Garland and the Department of Justice for their investigations into the former president.
But Mr Garland told CNN that the investigations and indictments against Mr Trump were done through proper procedure.
“We have reasserted and clarified the norms of this Justice Department, we follow the facts and the law wherever they lead. Politics is not a part of our determination, it would be improper,” Mr Garland said.
One of the ways Mr Garland has made sure politics do not play a role is by appointing several special counsels to investigate political figures like Mr Trump, Joe Biden and Hunter Biden – the son of President Biden.
“In each case, we have appointed people who are formerly veteran career prosecutors,” Mr Garland said.
Special counsels are appointed by Mr Garland to investigate and possibly prosecute a case where the justice department may have a conflict of interest. They are independent from Mr Garland, though they operate under the same department.
“With respect to the public, I hope they will see and not only from what we’ve done but the outcomes of the cases and the way in which special counsel has proceeded that we have kept politics out of this,” Mr Garland said.