What is a special counsel, and what it means for Trump investigations

On Nov. 18, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to oversee probes related to former president Donald Trump. (Video: The Washington Post)
5 min

On Friday, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that a special counsel would oversee a pair of criminal investigations involving former president Donald Trump. Garland named Jack Smith, a veteran Justice Department prosecutor, to oversee an investigation into Trump’s handling of documents at his South Florida home and private club, and a separate probe digging into attempts to stop President Biden from assuming office.

Here’s what you need to know about the appointment.