(Optional Musical Accompaniment To This Post)
See, here’s the thing about grand juries. They don’t go away. They don’t care whom they steamroll. They don’t care about how good the chocolate cake is at your country club. The Electoral College is irrelevant to them. Your gold commode does not impress them. Grand juries are rampaging beasts eagerly going where the prosecutors want them to go. All of this is true of any grand jury anywhere at any time. In Washington, the beast is bigger and the rampage more ferocious than it is anywhere else.
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I remember being in the office of Senator John McCain when the Lewinsky story broke. Looking out the big window behind his desk, you could see little starbursts all over the place—one outside the White House, one outside the Prettyman federal courthouse, and a couple down on the sidewalks around the Capitol. Those were balls of TV lights. TV lights are the eyes of the beast. From the WSJ, via Josh’s joint:
The Wall Street Journal reported, citing two unnamed sources familiar with the matter, that the Washington, D.C. grand jury “began its work in recent weeks” and is separate from the one assisting with the probe into President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. The impanelment of that jury predated Mueller’s appointment as special counsel. The empanelment of a new, separate grand jury reflects the scope of Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the election and whether any members of Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.
Prosecutors of my casual acquaintance tell me that the longer a grand jury sits, the more bonded the people on it become to each other. (In Not Above The Law, James Doyle’s great book about the inner workings of the Watergate special prosecution force, there is a moment when Richard Ben Veniste tells Leon Jaworski that the members of the Watergate grand jury had become closer the longer they sat.) Further, another thing about grand juries is that you have to show up. You can dodge a congressional subpoena, or finagle your way past an FBI interview, but if a grand jury subpoena gets dropped on you, unless your lawyer is very, very good, your ass is going to be in a chair and Robert Mueller is going to be looking at you.
They can’t rein it in. If Mueller wants to look at how the Trump Organization did its business with Russian interests before the president* even thought of being president, he can do that. If he wants to conduct exploratory surgery on Jared Kushner’s financial records, he can do that, too. If he wants to examine the working conditions in the Chinese factories where Ivanka’s line of shoes are made, it’s off to Asia we go. Meanwhile, congresscritters on both sides of the aisle are pushing legislation aimed at protecting Mueller from presidential retribution. In other words, as Blackstone once put it, shit’s getting really real.
And, on Thursday night, the president* was going to West Virginia on one of his regular expeditions to be adored by a hall full of strangers. His handlers must’ve looked like those guys in The Wages of Fear, hauling dynamite down the dark slopes of mysterious mountains.