All of Hur’s previous appointments to official positions have come during Republican administrations, including his appointment to be US attorney in Maryland by Trump. He served as law clerk for federal judges appointed by former President Ronald Reagan, including the late Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist. He once held a top position as an assistant to current FBI Director Christopher Wray, also a Trump appointee, but one who has been criticized by Trump. As US attorney in Maryland, he oversaw a corruption case where Baltimore’s former Democratic mayor was sentenced to prison for three years following a children’s book scandal.
A history of prosecuting politicians
Smith, who is coordinating Trump investigations, worked at the Justice Department during the Obama administration. While at the public integrity unit of the Justice Department, Smith was involved in the decision to prosecute former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican who was convicted of corruption, although the Supreme Court later vacated the conviction. He was also involved in the failed prosecution of former Sen. John Edwards, a Democrat.
Special counsels still report to the attorney general
There are some important distinctions in terms of what kind of power a special counsel has. Between 1978 and 1999, as part of an ethics in government law, the attorney general could ask a three-judge panel to appoint an independent prosecutor with near total authority to bring charges. Read more from the Congressional Research Service.
More recently, attorneys general have appointed special counsels, who have some autonomy, but still ultimately report to the attorney general. That chain of command was abundantly clear when Trump’s attorney general William Barr slow-walked the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation in a way that seemed beneficial to Trump.
Thus, it’s Merrick Garland, or his successors, who will ultimately decide what to do with the findings by Smith, Hur and Weiss.