Trump Declares Himself 'Honest and Innocent' as He Rails Against DOJ

Former President Donald Trump has declared himself "honest and innocent" and strongly criticized the Department of Justice (DOJ) following the department's appointment of a special counsel.

Trump was responding to Attorney General Merrick Garland's decision to name veteran prosecutor Jack Smith to weigh whether criminal charges should be filed against him.

The former president called Garland's announcement "appalling" and the appointment of a special counsel a "witch hunt" during a speech at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida.

The announcement came just days after Trump announced a new White House bid in 2024 and just over a week since midterm elections where Republicans won a majority in the House.

Donald Trump Speaks on Election Night 2022
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media during an election night event at Mar-a-Lago on November 08, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump has denied any wrongdoing after the Department of Justice named a special prosecutor to weigh bringing charges against him. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Trump said he had believed the DOJ's investigation into him was "dead" following the primary defeat of Republican Representative Liz Cheney, who has served as vice chair of the House of Representatives' Select Committee investigating the events of January 6, 2021.

"I thought that put the final nail in the coffin, only to find out the corrupt and highly political Justice Department just appointed a super radical left special counsel, better referred to as a special prosecutor, to start the process all over again," Trump said.

"They want to do bad things to the greatest movement in the history of our country, but in particular bad things to me," Trump added. "But I've gotten used to it."

Trump said the appointment was "a rigged deal" and compared it to the 2020 presidential election. He was repeatedly made unfounded claims that the last presidential election was stolen from him.

"This will not be a fair investigation," Trump went on, saying that "over the years I've given millions and millions of pages of documents—tax returns and everything else—and they have found nothing, which means I've proven to be one of the most honest and innocent people in our country."

The former president spent some time criticizing President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, and calling for a special counsel to investigate what he described as the Bidens' "tremendous corruption."

House Republicans announced this week that they would launch a probe of Hunter Biden's business dealings in the next Congress, publishing an interim report that accused President Biden of involvement in his son's business affairs.

The newly appointed special counsel's purview will include an investigation into the handling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago as well as aspects of investigations into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

"Based on recent developments, including the former President's announcement that he is a candidate for President in the next election, and the sitting President's stated intention to be a candidate as well, I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint a special counsel," Garland said in a statement on Friday.

"Such an appointment underscores the Department's commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters. It also allows prosecutors and agents to continue their work expeditiously, and to make decisions indisputably guided only by the facts and the law," he said.

Newsweek has asked the Department of Justice for comment.