“Jack Smith, Special Counsel for Trump Inquiries, Steps Up the Pace”


Did former President Donald J. Trump consume detailed information about foreign countries while in office? How extensively did he seek information about whether voting machines had been tampered with? Did he indicate he knew he was leaving when his term ended?

Those are among the questions that Justice Department investigators have been directing at witnesses as the special counsel, Jack Smith, takes control of the federal investigations into Mr. Trump’s efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss and his handling of classified documents found in his possession after he left office.

Through witness interviews, subpoenas and other steps, Mr. Smith has been moving aggressively since being named to take over the inquiries nearly three months ago, seeking to make good on his goal of resolving as quickly as possible whether Mr. Trump, still a leading contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, should face charges….

The intensified pace of activity speaks to his goal of finishing up before the 2024 campaign gets going in earnest, probably by summer. At the same time, the sheer scale and complexity and the topics he is focused on — and the potential for the legal process to drag on, for example in a likely battle over whether any testimony by Mr. Pence would be subject to executive privilege — suggest that coming to firm conclusions within a matter of months could be a stretch.

“The impulse to thoroughly investigate Trump’s possibly illegal actions and the impulse to complete the investigation as soon as possible, because of presidential election season, are at war with one another,” said Jack Goldsmith, a former assistant attorney general and current Harvard Law professor. “One impulse will likely have to yield to the other.”

In looking into Mr. Trump’s efforts to hold onto power after his election loss and how they led to the Jan. 6 riot, Mr. Smith is overseeing a number of investigative strands. The subpoena to Mr. Pence indicates that he is seeking testimony that would go straight to the question of Mr. Trump’s role in trying to prevent certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the election and the steps Mr. Trump took in drawing a crowd of supporters to Washington and inciting them.

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