If you were looking for a sign to indicate that the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election is finally heating up — this is it. Things are finally beginning to iron out, and not a moment too soon.
According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now assembling a grand jury in Washington, D.C. which marks a significant step up in his attempt to get to the bottom of things.
On Thursday, two sources familiar with the latest step in the investigation told Reuters that Mueller had convened a grand jury in Washington to investigate the alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Furthermore, they went on to add that subpoenas had been issued in connection with a June 2016 meeting involving Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and a Russian lawyer.
The WSJ article reads:
‘Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury in Washington to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, a sign that his inquiry is growing in intensity and entering a new phase, according to people familiar with the matter.’
PBS News recently conducted an interview with Steve Bunnell, former chief of the Criminal Division at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, to explain the significance of Mueller’s latest move.
According to Bunnell, Mueller’s latest move signifies that the “investigation is getting more intensified, it’s getting more serious.” A grand jury, which is comprised of 23 citizens whose job it is to “review proposed charges and vote indictments,” is “used for collecting financial information and for doing long-term, deep-dive investigations.”
At this point, it’s well known that Mueller isn’t just looking for evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. He’s also looking at financial transactions — possibly ones between President Trump and Russian officials. According to Bunnell:
‘Bob Mueller is a very experienced prosecutor and law enforcement individual. He knows that you investigate potential crimes. You don’t investigate people. And so I think what he’s doing is investigating a set of allegations, a set of potential crimes. And whatever individuals may be involved in that will be sort of part of that investigation.’
As for how long the investigation could take, well Bunnell maintains that it won’t be quick to conclude. He told PBS:
‘I would guess several, many months. Federal grand juries are impaneled for 18 months and can be extended another six months. And financial investigations take a long time, especially if you are trying to obtain records from overseas locations.’
Members of Congress also fear President Trump will remove Mueller from his post before the investigation concludes, according to Reuters. Mueller was appointed on May 17 in order to determine whether there is any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
After Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey on May 9, as well as several other members of his inner circle including Reince Priebus and Anthony Scaramucci, people have good reason to worry that Mueller may not be able to successfully complete his investigation.
At this rate, with the sure signs that things are beginning to intensify, it’ll be a wonder if he has his job long enough to finish the investigation.
Featured Image via Getty Images.