FL judge grills Jack Smith’s team on Merrick Garland involvement: ‘Has there been any actual oversight?’

The federal judge handling former president Donald Trump’s classified documents case grilled special counsel Jack Smith’s team on Friday over Attorney General Merrick Garland’s involvement in the case.

The back-and-forth exchange between U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon and Smith’s team occurred at the end of a four-hour hearing concerning Trump’s request to dismiss the case based on his contention that Smith was improperly appointed to lead the prosecution.

“Trump attorney Emil Bove argued that because Garland has repeatedly said Smith is acting independently, the special counsel should be considered a ‘principal officer’ — a top government official who has no immediate supervisor and whose appointment requires Senate approval,” according to The Washington Post.

“The special counsel team countered that Smith, like other special counsels before him, is not a principal officer. The team said that while federal regulations say Garland does not provide day-to-day supervision of special counsels, the attorney general ensures they adhere to Justice Department protocols and can review major investigatory steps.”

It was at this point that Cannon asked deputy prosecutor James Pearce whether Garland had reviewed the classified documents indictment before it was filed.

“Has there been any actual oversight?” she asked.

“Yes,” Pearce responded before going on to claim he was “not authorized” to discuss the matter.

“I don’t want to make it seem like I’m hiding something,” he added.

“Why would there be any heartburn to answer whether the attorney general signed off on the indictment?” Cannon reportedly fired back.

Pearce responded by saying “that regulations require the special counsel’s office to report any major developments to the attorney general,” as reported by CNN.

“Pearce said earlier that an indictment could certainly be considered a major development,” according to CNN.

It’s not clear when Cannon will make her ruling on Trump’s claim that Smith’s appointment was unconstitutional. What’s known is that a verdict in his favor would be a critical blow to the Biden Department of Justice

“Today was an important day for the rule of law because basic principles were discussed in a very deliberate fashion,” former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey told Breitbart after Friday’s hearing.

Mukasey had reportedly filed a brief in the case arguing that Garland’s impromptu appointment of Smith was unconstitutional.

“This case involves basic issues going to the power and authority of government, which should be of concern to every American,” Mukasey continued.

“While Congress previously established an office similar to a special counsel called an ‘independent counsel,’ that statute expired in 1999,” according to Breitbart. “And although Congress – which created the Department of Justice – authorizes an ‘officer’ authority and powers similar to those Garland granted Smith, those officers require presidential appointment and senatorial confirmation. Given those restrictions, special counsels are generally chosen from federal prosecutors, which check those legal and constitutional boxes.”

“Yet Garland gave Smith the powers of a president-nominated and Senate-appointed officer despite Smith being no more than an employee of Garland. Meese and his compatriots argue Garland does not possess the authority to create such an office or give such power, and that establishment of confirmation process for anyone wielding such power is evidence that Smith – or anyone else – cannot simply be granted it unilaterally by an attorney general.”

Arguing on behalf of Meese and crew this Friday, Gene Schaerr “took the position that the district court should follow the canon of constitutional doubt,” Breitbart notes.

“Under that principle, when a federal law can be interpreted two ways, one of which would raise serious questions about whether it was constitutional, but the other a narrower interpretation that is clearly allowed by the Constitution, a federal court must choose the latter,” according to the outlet.

“Applying that principle to the provisions of federal law that Smith cited as authorizing his appointment – none of which mention a special counsel or appointing any sort of federal officers – Schaerr argued that the court should conclude none of those provisions empower an attorney general to appoint a chief prosecutor with all the powers that Smith possesses.”

Vivek Saxena

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