Jack Smith is the man the US attorney general, Merrick Garland, appointed on Friday to be an independent special counsel overseeing parallel justice department investigations into Donald Trump’s hoarding of top secret documents and involvement in the 6 January 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol, and he has been a criminal prosecutor for almost 30 years.

Smith has previously served as the chief of public integrity for the US justice department and dealt in particular with cases involving corruption, bringing cases against prominent Republicans and Democrats. In 2015 he was appointed first assistant US attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. He is a registered independent, not aligned with either of the two dominant political parties in the US.

Since 2018 he has been the chief prosecutor for the international criminal court in The Hague, the city on the North Sea that operates as the national administrative center of the Netherlands, and there has investigated and adjudicated war crimes that took place in Kosovo, in the Balkans.

The justice department announced on Friday that he had resigned from that role and would be returning to the US soon to take up his new position. However, he is currently recovering from a bicycle accident.

Smith began his career as a prosecutor in New York City, at the office of the Manhattan district attorney in the 1990s. He later became a federal prosecutor in the city’s Brooklyn borough, where he specialized in cases of public corruption, prosecuted civil rights violations and investigated when police officers were killed by organized crime, justice department said.

In a justice department statement issued on Friday afternoon, Smith said: “I intend to conduct the assigned investigations, and any prosecutions that may result from them, independently and in the best traditions of the Department of Justice. The pace of the investigations will not pause or flag under my watch. I will exercise independent judgment and will move the investigations forward expeditiously and thoroughly to whatever outcome the facts and the law dictate.”

Smith’s appointment drew a rebuke from Trump within hours on Friday. The former president told Fox News’s digital division: “It is not acceptable. It is so unfair. It is so political.”

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