In the past several weeks, Special counsel Robert Mueller started using a grand jury in a Washington federal court in his investigation of the alleged correlation between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign, Washington Post reports, citing sources close to the probe.
The development is a sign that investigators continue to aggressively gather evidence in the case, and that Mueller is taking full control of a probe that predated him.
Mueller has been expanding the legal team working on the matter in the past months and recently added Greg Andres, a longtime white-collar lawyer specializing in foreign bribery who previously worked in the Justice Department’s criminal division.
Mueller’s investigation now includes a look at whether President Trump obstructed justice by firing FBI Director James B. Comey, as well as deep dives into financial and other dealings of former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Federal prosecutors had previously been using a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia, and even before Mueller was appointed, had increased their activity, issuing subpoenas and taking other investigative steps.
The Wall Street Journal on Thursday first reported the existence of the Washington grand jury.
A White House adviser said the president and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, had not received subpoenas, nor had the White House. Members of the president’s legal team met with Mueller three weeks ago to express their desire to work with his investigators.
A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment for this article. Ty Cobb, whom Trump appointed as White House special counsel, said of the grand jury: “This is news to me, but it’s welcome news to the extent it suggests that it may accelerate the resolution of Mr. Mueller’s work. The White House has every interest in bringing this to a prompt and fair conclusion. As we’ve said in the past, we’re committed to cooperating fully with Mr. Mueller.”
Mueller has largely removed the original prosecutors from the case, replacing them with a formidable collection of legal talent and expertise in prosecuting national security, fraud and public corruption cases, arguing matters before the Supreme Court and assessing complicated legal questions.
In federal cases, a grand jury is not necessarily an indication that an indictment is imminent or even likely. Instead, it is a powerful investigative tool that prosecutors use to compel witnesses to testify or force people or companies to turn over documents.
It’s unclear why Mueller chose to use a panel in the District, although there are practical reasons to do so. The special counsel’s office is located in Southwest D.C. — much closer to the federal courthouse in the city than the one in Alexandria, Va. Mueller also had previously worked in the U.S. attorney’s office in D.C., giving him some familiarity with the courthouse and the judges.
The grand jury in Virginia had issued a subpoena related to Flynn’s business, the Flynn Intel Group, which was paid more than $500,000 by a company owned by a Turkish American businessman close to top Turkish officials, said people familiar with the matter. A subpoena related to Manafort also was issued from Alexandria.