But a POLITICO reporter observed Whiting at the U.S. District Courthouse in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday and Thursday, spending several hours following a defendant’s Jan. 6 trial. The judge in the case is Tanya Chutkan, who is expected to preside over Trump’s trial in March on federal charges stemming from his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
During a break in the Jan. 6 trial this week, Whiting introduced himself to prosecutors as a new member of Smith’s team, saying he “just joined” the office.
From 2018 to 2022, Smith served as chief prosecutor of the Kosovo Specialist Chamber in The Hague. Whiting temporarily took over the position last year after Attorney General Merrick Garland named Smith as special counsel to lead the Trump investigations. Boston attorney Kim West was named to permanently succeed Smith in June, but did not assume the role immediately.
Whiting has been a frequent commentator on the previous special counsel investigating Trump: Robert Mueller, who investigated ties between Russia and the Trump campaign in 2016. Whiting has written numerous articles and given interviews assessing the strength of Mueller’s arguments against Trump, often siding with those who saw extreme legal peril for Trump because of his efforts to dampen the investigation. Although he was active on Twitter, his account appears to have been deleted and a Wayback Machine search suggests it had been dormant since mid-2022.
Whiting’s addition to the team shows Smith is preparing for a new phase of his efforts: preparing for trials that could send a former president to prison for the first time in U.S. history.
This hire is also another example of Smith turning to allies he has worked closely with at different phases of his career. His top deputies, David Harbach and Raymond Hulser, worked closely with Smith during his tenure at the Obama-era Justice Department, where Smith headed the Public Integrity Section.
Harbach was also recently spotted eyeing a potential opponent at the federal courthouse in Washington, DC. He attended parts of jury selection for former Trump adviser Peter Navarro, represented by attorney Stanley Woodward. Woodward also represents Walt Nauta, Trump’s co-defendant in Smith’s other criminal case against the former president, related to his hiding of highly sensitive national security documents at his Florida estate.
It is unclear whether Whiting’s presence at Chutkan’s trial was on his own initiative or whether he was observing on mission from the special prosecutor’s office.
In addition to his war crimes work – which also included five years as a litigator for three war crimes prosecutions stemming from the war in Kosovo – he also spent seven years prosecuting organized crime in Boston for the Ministry of Justice from 1995 to 2002.
Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.