Donald Trump on Friday night scrambled for every possible response to the appointment of a special counsel to investigate him — from a declaration that he’s one of the most “honest and innocent people” to suggesting that any new indictments could be “double jeopardy.”
The former president made the remarks in a speech at his Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, after Attorney General Merrick Garland named a special counsel earlier in the day to oversee a Justice Department probe centered on Trump. Authorities are looking into the circumstances around a stash of classified documents that had been transported to the resort from the White House at the end of Trump’s term.
The special counsel — former Justice Department official Jack Smith — will also supervise the continuing investigation into Trump’s role in last year’s Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington and efforts to toss out the results of the 2020 presidential election.
In his speech, Trump called the decision to appoint a special counsel “appalling,” President Joe Biden’s administration “egregiously corrupt,” and the Justice Department “weaponized.” He described Smith as “super radical left.”
Trump’s first key point about himself was that he shouldn’t be indicted for anything because he’s “one of the most honest and innocent people ever in our country.”
When that didn’t completely straighten things out, he suggested that any indictment against him could be considered double jeopardy because he had already been cleared in two impeachments, including for his role in last year’s insurrection.
“Isn’t this sort of like double jeopardy?” he asked the crowd.
Earlier in the day, the same theory had been floated by Fox News host Geraldo Rivera.
Double jeopardy — the prosecution of a person twice for the same acts, which is prohibited by the U.S. Constitution — doesn’t apply to impeachments.
Trump also insisted that the Justice Department’s investigation into the White House documents stashed at Mar-a-Lago was “dying or dead or over.”
After listening to Trump’s speech, CNN senior justice correspondent Evan Pérez told the network’s fact-checker John Berman that “the former president is just making it up.”
“There is … nothing to say that this was a dead investigation or that it was being abandoned — far from it,” Pérez said on the network. “People around him have been getting subpoenas in recent days. So there was nothing to indicate that this was about to go away.”
The speech went “on and on and on and on, and much of what he was saying was misleading; some of it was flat-out untrue,” said Berman.
Also on Friday, a furious Trump had told Fox News that he was “not going to partake” in any investigation conducted by the special counsel, and he slammed the appointment as “the worst politicization of justice in our country.”