The Russia investigation might be getting interesting.
As Donald Trump, who spent years criticizing Barack Obama for going on vacation as president, prepares to… go on vacation as president , he’ll have some presumably-disquieting information to digest while he carefully packs up his toothbrush, his eye mask, and the battered Android phone he uses to send out inane tweetstorms every morning: Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to investigate the White House’s potential involvement in Russia’s efforts to hack the 2016 presidential election, has impaneled a grand jury in Washington, D.C. Bon voyage, Mr. President!
According to the Wall Street Journal, the grand jury actual began its work several weeks ago, which the report cites as evidence that the inquiry is “growing in intensity,” “entering a new phase,” “ramping up,” and “likely to continue for months.” Grand juries are, roughly speaking, the predecessors to the petit juries that decide guilt or innocence in court after a defendant has been charged with a crime. Prosecutors, not judges, preside over grand juries, and their proceedings remain secret while grand jurors examine the evidence presented and decide whether to offer up an indictment.
At this stage, it remains entirely possible that nothing interesting comes out of this exercise. However, since grand juries are specifically empowered to do things like compel testimony from witnesses and subpoena documents, it stands to reason that Mueller would convene one once he knew which documents he wanted to see, and which people he wanted to testify under oath. Right on cue, Reuters reports that Mueller has issued subpoenas to as-yet-undisclosed recipients in conjunction with first son and bona fide dummy Donald Trump Jr.’s infamous attempts to procure damaging information about Hillary Clinton from alleged Russian associates. (You think Donald Jr. plans to join his father for any of this vacation? Talk about a buzzkill!)
Thomas Zeno, a federal prosecutor for 29 years before becoming a
lawyer at the Squire Patton Boggs law firm, said the grand jury is
“confirmation that this is a very vigorous investigation going on.”
[Rubs hands together eagerly]
“This doesn’t mean he is going to bring charges,” Mr. Zeno cautioned.
“But it shows he is very serious. He wouldn’t do this if it were
Zeno goes on to opine that Mueller’s recent poaching of Greg Andres, a former Department of Justice prosecutor who managed the federal government’s program that targeted illegal foreign bribery, as more circumstantial evidence that perhaps something interesting is afoot in whichever drab, windowless Washington conference room Mueller and his crack squad of prosecutorial luminaries are merrily going about their work.
“People like Greg Andres don’t leave private practice willy-nilly,”
Mr. Zeno said. “The fact he is being added after couple of months
shows how serious this is and that it could last a long time.”
Less than three months after his appointment as special counsel, Robert Mueller has convened a grand jury, issued his first set of subpoenas (that we know about), and quietly lured an expert on foreign bribery out of private practice and added him to the team’s bench. This is already shaping up to be Donald Trump’s most relaxing vacation ever.
Hey, Speaking of Russia
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