Washington, D.C.– Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury to investigate Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, according to a report published Thursday by The Wall Street Journal (https://www.wsj.com/articles/special-counsel-mueller-impanels-washington-grand-jury-in-russia-probe-1501788287).
According to the report, the newly impaneled grand jury will focus on Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election and on allegations of obstruction of justice.
A grand jury has already been impaneled in Virginia to investigate Michael Flynn and his work in the private sector on behalf of foreign interests and most legal analysts agree that Meuller’s decision to extend the probe is a likely sign that he is leaning toward filing of criminal charges.
“This doesn’t mean [Mueller] is going to bring charges, but it shows he is very serious,” Thomas Zeno, a former federal prosecutor, told The Journal. “He wouldn’t do this if it were winding down.”
Russia has denied interfering in any way with the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, as has President Donald Trump who has frequently called allegations of “collusion” between himself and Russian officials nothing more than a political “witch hunt.”
The impaneling of the new grand jury means that Mueller’s team will have the power to subpoena records and extract testimony from witnesses who are sworn in under oath.
The president has openly criticized Mueller in recent weeks and has publicly blamed Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Russia case, which ultimately cleared the way for Mueller’s appointment.
When reached for comment, Trump attorney John Dowd refused to issue statement other than to say, “We have no reason to believe President Trump is under investigation,” but added “the president wants a swift end to this matter and will cooperate in any way necessary to ensure that is the end result.”
In a related matter, Reuters also reported on Thursday that grand jury subpoenas have been issued in connection with the June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr., a Russian lawyer and others who were present (http://mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKBN1AJ2V0).
Trump, Jr has admitted meeting with the Russian official but claims that the meeting ultimately resulted in a request for information on the adoption of Russian children by U.S. families. Trump, Jr has claimed the meeting so insignificant that he didn’t bother to notify his father about it because it wound up being nothing more than “a waste of time”.