Matt Gaetz launches bill to defund Jack Smith probe as Trump asks Capitol allies for Jan 6 indictment help

Rep Matt Gaetz of Florida said on his podcast that he will in the coming days introduce a bill to defund Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into former President Donald Trump as Mr Trump reportedly asks Capitol Hill allies for help as he faces another potential indictment.

“In the coming hours, the coming days, I will be introducing legislation under my name, in the House of Representatives, as a freestanding bill, to defund the Jack Smith investigation,” Mr Gaetz said on Tuesday. “And one reason why is the election interference feature. Another reason why: the lack of transparency.”

Mr Gaetz’s announcement comes just hours after Mr Trump said he’s received a letter from Mr Smith’s investigation into the events of January 6 informing him that he is the target of a grand jury investigation in Washington DC.

“Deranged Jack Smith, the prosecutor with Joe Biden’s DOJ, sent a letter (again, it was Sunday night!) stating that I am a TARGET of the January 6th Grand Jury investigation, and giving me a very short 4 days to report to the grand Jury, which almost always means an Arrest and indictment,” Mr Trump wrote in a post on Truth Social.

It is as of now unclear what charges Mr Trump may face, though he’s already been indicted for allegedly mishandling classified documents in Florida and allegedly participating in a hush money payment scheme in New York.

But if Mr Trump is indicted again for his participation in efforts to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election and subvert American democracy, it could dampen his odds of being returned to office in next year’s election — a prospect he and his supporters are arguing amounts to election interference.

For now, Mr Trump is reportedly reaching out to allies in Congress for help defending him. CNN’s Melanie Zanona reported that the former president has reached out to Speaker Kevin McCarthy and House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik for political assistance with the fallout from the probe.

Mr Trump has himself in recent weeks repeatedly attacked Mr Smith, who was appointed as special counsel by Attorney General Merrick Garland last year. Mr Smith has been charged with overseeing two Department of Justice investigations into the former president, one regarding January 6 and the other regarding his handling of classified material.

A number of Republicans allied with Mr Trump have responded to the news of the target letter and potentially Mr Trump’s entreaties by attacking the Mr Smith and the Justice Department as well. Mr McCarthy, for example, said the letter was the result of a “weaponised government.”

Mr Gaetz hopes to shut down the entire investigation, which is exceedingly unlikely to happen. It remains to be seen exaclty how his bill would “defund” the special counsel.

Mr Trump’s rivals for the Republican nomination for president, meanwhile, have been somewhat less deferential. Gov Ron DeSantis of Florida criticised the alleged politicisation of the Justice Department, but said he “should have come out more forcefully” on January 6.

Other candidates even further back in the field, like former Gov Nikki Haley of South Carolina and former Gov Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, came out more forcefully against Mr Trump’s actions and prospects.

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