DOJ names war crimes expert as special counsel for Trump probes

STORY: "Appointing a special counsel at this time is the right thing to do. The extraordinary circumstances presented here demand it."

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Friday the appointment of a special counsel to oversee the Justice Department's investigations into Donald Trump, who just three days earlier announced he is running for president again in 2024.

Garland said that made the appointment of a special counsel imperative.

"Based on recent developments, including the former president's announcement that he is a candidate for president in the next election, and the sitting president's stated intention to be a candidate as well, I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint a special counsel."

Garland named Jack Smith as special counsel, a political independent who had been prosecuting Kosovo war crimes for the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Garland said Smith will oversee both the investigation into Trump's handling of classified government documents and the probe into attempts to interfere with the peaceful transfer of power after the 2020 election.

"Mr. Smith will begin his work as special counsel immediately and will be returning to the United States from The Hague."

Smith, who previously oversaw the Justice Department's public integrity section, said in a statement:

"I will exercise independent judgment and will move the investigations forward expeditiously and thoroughly to whatever outcome the facts and the law dictate."

In a statement to Fox News, Trump said he "won't partake" in the special counsel's investigations and has called them politically motivated witch hunts.

An official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the White House was not involved in the decision to appoint a special counsel.

Biden did not respond to multiple shouted questions from reporters about the appointment during his only public appearance of the day.