The attorney general is scheduled to make the announcement just days after former President Donald J. Trump announced that he would seek the White House again in 2024.
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The appointment of a special counsel is a way for Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Justice Department to insulate its investigations from political considerations.
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Merrick B. Garland will announce on Friday that he is appointing a special counsel to take over two major criminal investigations involving former President Donald J. Trump, including his role in events leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and his handling of sensitive government documents.
The announcement, which a senior law enforcement official said Mr. Garland would make Friday afternoon, came after Mr. Trump said on Tuesday that he planned to run for president again, a decision some have claimed was taken to make it more difficult for prosecutors to pursue criminal cases against him.
The appointment of a special counsel was a way for the Justice Department to insulate its investigations against Mr. Trump from political considerations. While special counsels can be fired from their positions, the process is much more arduous than removing ordinary prosecutors from a case.
Special counsels are semi-independent prosecutors who by Justice Department regulations can be appointed for high-level investigations when there can be a conflict of interest, or the appearance of it. They exercise greater day-to-day autonomy than regular United States attorneys, but are ultimately still subject to the control of the attorney general.