In a signal the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election is taking a new turn, special counsel overseeing the probe, Robert Mueller, has impaneled a grand jury to aid in the inquiry.
Responding to reports Mueller had established a grand jury, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said:
“The White House is committed to fully cooperating with Mr. Mueller. Former FBI Director Jim Comey said three times the president is not under investigation and we have no reason to believe that has changed.”
A grand jury is a legal body established at the request of a prosecutor to hear testimony and weigh evidence to determine whether a crime has been committed. A body with sweeping powers, its members are empowered to ask questions of witnesses and hold the power to hand down indictments.
Despite a refusal by the special counsel’s office to comment on the matter, unnamed sources have confirmed to the Wall Street Journal the legal body has issued subpoenas related to a meeting held between a Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, and Trump campaign officials on June 9, 2016, at Trump Tower in New York City.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Mueller’s grand jury had begun work “in recent weeks.”
An issue which has hung like a dark cloud over the White House for six months, Mueller, a former FBI director, was appointed in May to look into allegations the Russian Federation interfered with the November 2016 election.
Both President Trump and the Kremlin have denied any cooperation during the campaign.
[BBC] [CNBC] [Photo courtesy AP via Politico]