Fresh revelations that the wife of recently appointed Trump special counsel Jack Smith was a producer on a Michelle Obama documentary have fueled conservative misgivings about his impartiality.
Katy Chevigny is listed as a producer for Becoming on IMDB and donated $1,000 to then-candidate Joe Biden’s campaign in 2020, according to OpenSecrets. Rankled by the appointment of Smith to oversee criminal inquiries involving former President Donald Trump, a slew of conservatives have seized upon the revelations about his wife as ammunition to diminish his credibility.
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“You would think that if the stated purpose to avoid any type of concern about bias were sincere, then they would at least check to see whether or not when you shake the family tree of the special counsel, any virulent Trump haters, Never Trumpers, Biden supporters fall out,” firebrand Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) chided during an interview with Steve Bannon on Tuesday.
Gaetz further insisted that Congress “use the power of the purse to defund this explicitly political exercise against President Trump.”
Prominent public figures have occasionally drawn backlash over their political spouse’s political beliefs. For example, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas’s machinations about challenging the 2020 election have been raised by detractors when the senior justice weighs cases related to the riot.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Clarence Thomas should recuse himself from Jan. 6 cases given his wife’s activities. Defenders of Smith quickly pointed to Ginni Thomas when conservatives began recoiling over Chevigny’s history.
“So, Matt Gaetz thinks that if someone’s spouse has a history of political involvement, that person can’t do their job objectively. Someone should introduce him to [Ginni] Thomas,” former Pennsylvania State Sen. Daylin Leach tweeted.
In addition to her work on Becoming, a documentary based on Obama’s 2018 memoir of the same name released in 2020, Chevigny has also help produced other left-leaning films such as Dark Money, which explored the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court case.
“You just can’t make this stuff up. Katy Chevigny, wife of Jack Smith—the special counsel appointed by DOJ to go after President Trump, donated to Joe Biden’s campaign and produced Michelle Obama’s documentary. America cannot stand with a corrupt, two-tiered justice system,” Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) tweeted.
“Of course the wife of Jack Smith, the special counsel appointed by Merrick Garland to investigate President Trump, was one of the producers of the Michelle Obama documentary. But don’t worry guys, the DOJ has not been weaponized against conservatives. Everything is fine,” conservative Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk tweeted, drawing emoji eyes from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
An onslaught of former associates of Smith, as well as legal experts, have touted Smith’s integrity and work ethic following his appointment. For example, Andrew Weissmann — “Mueller’s pit bull” — hailed Smith as a “no-nonsense and let’s-cut-to-the-chase kind of guy.”
“Jack Smith is the consummate professional and career DOJ prosecutor. Not a political bone in his body. And a skilled and fast prosecutor who does not let the grass grow under his feet. In short, a terrific choice if you are appointing a Special Counsel,” Weissmann said of Smith.
Grumblings about Chevigny from Republicans come as Smith has faced scrutiny over his role in the IRS targeting controversy during the Obama administration.
While serving as chief of the Justice Department Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, Smith emailed IRS official Lois Lerner about how the tax agency could help “in the criminal enforcement of campaign-finance laws against politically active nonprofits,” testimony obtained by the House Judiciary Committee revealed.
Republicans accused the IRS of targeting conservative nonprofit groups during that scandal. Smith conferred with Lerner about intensifying scrutiny of nonprofit violations, per a House Judiciary Committee report on the matter.
“Jack Smith has been a Swamp Creature forever,” the House Judiciary GOP tweeted while referencing that testimony.
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Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Smith to spearhead the Justice Department’s criminal investigations into Trump pertaining to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and the Mar-a-Lago document investigation. Garland cited “recent developments,” including Trump’s 2024 campaign debut, as the impetus for the appointment.
In his capacity as special counsel, Smith is expected to weigh whether or not Trump will be criminally charged over those two Justice Department investigations. Unlike the Mueller inquiry into Russian collusion, Trump is no longer a sitting president as Smith’s work unfolds and is therefore not given the same protections against federal indictments as a president enjoys.
Some Republicans, such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), mused about defunding the special counsel shortly after the role was announced last week, even before revelations about his wife and correspondence with Lerner surfaced.
Smith married Chevigny in 2011, according to the “Class Notes” section of the winter 2012 Harvard Law Bulletin.
The Washington Examiner reached out to Smith and Chevigny for comment. The Justice Department declined to comment.