Special Counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly impaneled a grand jury for the federal investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials during the 2016 election and whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice by firing former FBI Director James Comey. The probe has also reportedly expanded to examine potential financial crimes.
On Aug. 3, sources familiar with the federal probe into Russia told The Wall Street Journal that Mueller had launched a grand jury weeks beforehand in Washington, D.C, reports The Atlantic. The disclosure indicated that Mueller and his team may have already discovered prosecutable crimes.
Law professor Stephen Vladeck of the University of Texas noted that Mueller was already heading a grand jury for the investigation into former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was fired in February after it was discovered that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Russian officials in December 2015.
"If there was already a grand jury ... looking at Flynn, there would be no need to reinvent the wheel for the same guy," Vladeck said. "This suggests that the investigation is bigger and wider than Flynn, perhaps substantially so."
Former Federal Prosecutor Renato Mariotti took to Twitter to remark that impaneling a grand jury "means there is enough evidence to warrant serious investigation."
Former Department of Justice (DOJ) official Emily Pierce of the Obama administration had a more skeptical take on what the disclosure meant, Business Insider reports.
Pierce asserted that the introduction of a grand jury "does not necessarily mean Mueller will bring charges. But it certainly ups the ante for anyone who may be a target of this probe."
On Aug. 3, sources familiar with the federal probe also disclosed that Mueller and his team were investigating Trump and his associates' alleged financial ties to Russia. The Mueller team is reportedly examining potential financial crimes that were not related to Russia.
Jay Sekulow, Trump's attorney, stated that they had not been given any indication that the president was being investigated for financial crimes.
"President's outside counsel has not received any requests for documentation or information about this," Sekulow told CNN. "Any inquiry from the special counsel that goes beyond the mandate specified in the appointment we would object to."
That same day, two anonymous senior federal law enforcement officials asserted that FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe hold told several bureau agents that they may be asked to testify in the federal probe into whether Trump obstructed justice by firing Comey.
"What you are going to have is the potential for a powerful obstruction case," one of the officials told Vox. “You are going to have the [former] FBI director testify, and then the acting director, the chief of staff to the FBI director, the FBI's general counsel, and then others, one right after another. This has never been the word of Trump against what [James Comey] has had to say. This is more like the Federal Bureau of Investigation versus Donald Trump."