Politics & Government

Mueller enlists grand jury in Russia probe, reports say

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller is the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Former FBI Director Robert Mueller is the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election. AP file

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury in his probe into whether President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election, according to the Wall Street Journal and Reuters.

The grand jury started its work in Washington in “recent weeks,” WSJ reported, citing two anonymous sources.

Reuters said it later confirmed the report with two sources, adding that grand jury subpoenas have been issued relating to Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer and others in June 2016.

After these reports surfaced, one of Trump’s lawyers, John Dowd, told The Associated Press that he has no reason to believe the president is under federal investigation.

Ty Cobb, special counsel to the president, said he had no knowledge of a grand jury, and that these matters are usually kept secret. Cobb told the AP that the White House “favors anything that accelerates the conclusion of his work fairly.”

Grand juries can be the first step in a criminal trial and are generally reserved for serious felonies, but the impaneling of a grand jury does not mean someone is being charged with a crime. Grand juries do have subpoena power for witnesses and records before they have chosen whether to indict the involved party.

Trump has denied his campaign colluded with Russia to interfere with the 2016 presidential election, referring to Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt.”

On Thursday, senators introduced two separate bipartisan bills to prevent Trump from firing Mueller, the AP reported. One bill by Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Chris Coons, D-Del., would allow any special counsel for the Department of Justice to challenge his or her removal in court.

The other bill by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Cory Booker, D-N.J. would prevent any special counsel from being fired unless unless the decision was first reviewed by a panel of three federal judges, AP reported.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.