The Wall Street Journal reports that Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury in Washington, D.C. A grand jury has already been impaneled in Virginia to investigate Michael Flynn and his work in the private sector on behalf of foreign interests. The new grand jury apparently will focus on Russia and the 2016 election and, quite possibly, on claims of obstruction of justice.
The existence of the D.C. grand jury is a sure sign that Mueller is pressing hard. As one expert told the Journal:
This doesn’t mean [Mueller] is going to bring charges, but it shows he is very serious. He wouldn’t do this if it were winding down.
It didn’t require the impaneling of the new grand jury to tell us this, though. We already knew it from the way Mueller has staffed this case — excessively and with plenty of Hillary-supporting Democrats.
Indeed, the Journal also reports that Mueller recently added Greg Andres, a top partner in a big New York law firm, to his team. Andres is a former top Justice Department official who also oversaw the criminal division of the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn. No one believes he would leave his law firm to participate in a low-level, short-lived investigation.
The impaneling of the new grand jury means that Mueller’s team will be subpoenaing records and taking testimony from witnesses. This process likely will tip off Trump’s legal team where the investigation is headed and whether it has taken on what the president views as the characteristics of a witch hunt. Trump will then be in a better position to decide whether to fire Mueller.
For example, Trump told the New York Times that if Mueller looks at his finances and those of his family “unrelated to Russia” this would cross a “red line.” If the grand jury probe goes in this direction, Trump will be sorely tempted to cut it off.
I will be sorely tempted not to blame him.
For now, the Trump administration is saying politically correct things. Ty Cobb, special counsel to the president, said “the White House favors anything that accelerates the conclusion of his work fairly [and]. . .is committed to fully cooperating with Mr. Mueller.”
This could change on a dime, as anyone who has been following the Trump presidency, even casually, knows.