Who is Jack Smith? Prosecutor overseeing Trump probes has extensive experience in high-profile cases

Jack Smith,the experienced war crimes prosecutor who is returning to the US to oversee investigations into former president Donald Trump, is no stranger to high-profile probes of public figures.

The Department of Justice veteran was appointed a special counsel on Friday by Attorney General Merrick Garland, who charged him with conducting the ongoing probe into “whether any person or entity violated the law in connection with efforts to interfere with the lawful transfer of power following the 2020 presidential election or the certification of the Electoral College vote held on or about January 6, 2021” as well as the investigation into whether Mr Trump violated US laws prohibiting unlawful retention of national defence information and obstruction of justice.

Jack Smith presiding during a war crimes court hearing at The Hague on November 2020 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Jack Smith presiding during a war crimes court hearing at The Hague on November 2020 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

If his office seeks and obtains indictments against Mr Trump, it would be the first time an ex-president — one who is a declared candidate in the next presidential election — will face criminal charges. But Mr Trump would not be the first public figure who Mr Smith has put in the dock.

From 2010 to 2015,. he oversaw anti-corruption prosecutions against multiple US politicians in his role as the head of the Department of Justice public integrity section.

One of those cases was against former Virginia governor Robert McDonnell, a Republican against whom he secured a conviction on bribery charges, though the case was later thrown out by the US Supreme Court.

He also won a conviction of former GOP Representative Rick Renzi of Arizona, who recieved a sentence of three years in prison before being pardoned by Mr Trump.

A Harvard Law School graduate, Mr Smith also served in prosecutorial roles in US Attorney offices in the Middle District of Tennessee and the Eastern District of New York.

He will return to the US from The Hague, where he has been serving as a “specialist prosecutor” overseeing prosecutions for war crimes in Kosovo since 2018. He also served as a coordinator of investigations for the prosecutor’s office at the International Criminal Court from 2008 to 2010, where he worked on cases against foreign government officials and members of militias accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.