Mike Johnson says he is looking at ways to 'rein in' Jack Smith

 May 16, 2024

House Speaker Mike Johnson joined other Republicans in condemning Manhattan District Alvin Bragg's prosecution of President Donald Trump over an alleged hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Yet Bragg isn't the only Trump Johnson is taking aim at, as the House speaker has also suggested defunding Special Council Jack Smith's office.

Johnson working with Jim Jordan to "rein in" Smith

"There's a lot of different ideas. People are alarmed that the special counsel, in that capacity, has been abused in recent years," Johnson told Fox News at his weekly press conference on Wednesday.

"How does Congress correct that error and ensure that a special counsel is not abusing their authority? You know, we have oversight, of course, we also have the power of the purse," he pointed out.

"There's a lot of different ideas being discussed now on what that would look like," Johnson noted. "Do you defund the entire Special Counsel's Office?"

Fox News noted that those words came one day after Johnson said he is "working with Chairman [Jim] Jordan of the House Judiciary Committee and Chairman [James] Comer of our Oversight Committee on measures to rein in the abuses of Special Counsel Jack Smith."

"What most people don't realize is that [it] is not funded in the regular appropriations process. It's a separate, distinct account, and it's effectively…funded autopilot," he added.

Johnson previously downplayed idea of defunding Smith's office

Fox News noted how Johnson's words seemed inconsistent with what he said about the prospect of defunding Smith's office during an interview with Politico last week.

"That's not something you wave a wand and just eliminate the special counsel as a provision," the speaker was quoted as stating.

"There is a necessity for a function like that, because sometimes the Department of Justice – which is an executive branch agency – can't necessarily, without a conflict of interest, investigate or prosecute the president who's their boss, or the president’s family," Johnson said of the special counsel's office.

What's more, when Politico asked if Johnson was "prepared to write language eliminating Smith’s job into appropriations bills," the speaker said he was not.

Judge indefinitely postpones start of documents trial

In addition to facing the prospect of seeing his office defunded, Smith has also had to contend with a major setback in his effort to prosecute Trump for mishandling classified documents.

Fox News reported earlier this month that Judge Aileen Cannon indefinitely postponed the start of Trump's trial, which had been scheduled to begin on May 20.

Cannon highlighted the number of as yet unresolved "substantive pretrial motions," including one from Trump's defense seeking access to hundreds of documents.

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