Special Counsel Mueller enlists grand jury, issues subpoenas for Russia probe

World Today

Robert MuellerIn this June 13, 2012, file photo then-FBI Director Robert Mueller listens as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. Mueller took office as FBI director in 2001 expecting to dig into drug cases, white-collar misdeeds and violent crime. A week later was Sept. 11. Overnight, his mission changed and Mueller spent the next 12 years wrestling the agency into a battle-hardened terrorism-fighting force. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Bob Mueller, the Special Counsel probing possible collusion between Russia and members of the Trump team into last year’s election, has impanelled a grand jury. The move is seen as a significant step in Mueller’s investigation, which has already come under attack by the President as a witch hunt.

Grand jury subpoenas were issued in connection with the June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr., a Russian lawyer and others, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday.

The sources also said special counsel Robert Mueller had convened a grand jury in Washington to investigate allegations of Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections.

Impanelling a Grand Jury doesn’t always mean a crime has been committed. But it is a significant step forward in determining if one was.

Bob Mueller, a former FBI director, was appointed Special Counsel by the Trump Justice Department in May, just four months into the Trump presidency.

The Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, had recused himself over anything related to the Russia investigation. And his Deputy, Rod Rosenstein, was facing pressure from lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle to appoint someone – independent – to take over.

The Director of the FBI, James Comey, who had been running the investigation, had been fired. He claimed that Trump implied, in private, that he should stop investigating possible collusion between members of the Trump team – and Trump family – with Russia.

Fast-forward a few months. Mueller has been building his – now, more than 16 lawyers working with him. And gathering evidence about possible collusion.

On several occasions, warned Mueller not to probe into his private financial records. It seems, that hasn’t stopped the Special Counsel from doing just that.

The FBI is reportedly sifting through documents connected to Trump Towers in New York, including Russian buyers. And the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, owned by Trump and held in Moscow.

It’s also looking at conversations intercepted between Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and Russia operatives, who claimed to have information that would prove detrimental to Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Subpoenas have already been issued for the phone records of a meeting between Trump’s son, Don Jr, and a Russian attorney with ties to the Kremlin.

It likely that witnesses will also be questioned under oath as the Grand Jury meets secretly. Records of any testimony will remain private.

But, if there’s an indictment and the case goes to trial, everything said to the Grand Jury can be submitted – be either side – into public record.