Attorney General Merrick Garland named a special counsel on Friday to oversee the Justice Department’s investigation into the presence of classified documents at former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate as well as key aspects of a separate probe involving the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and efforts to undo the 2020 election.

The move, announced just three days after Mr. Trump formally launched his 2024 candidacy, is a recognition of the unmistakable political implications of two investigations that involve not only a former president but also a current White House hopeful.

Mr. Garland said Friday that Mr. Trump’s announcement of his presidential candidacy and President Joe Biden’s likely 2024 run were factors in his decision to appoint Jack Smith, a veteran prosecutor, to be the special counsel. Mr. Garland said the appointment would allow prosecutors to continue their work “indisputably guided” only by the facts and the law.

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