US Special Counsel Robert Mueller tasked with investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election has reportedly impaneled a grand jury. The step represents a new phase of the Justice Department probe, of which Mueller took the helm in May not long after President Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey.
Major arms of the United States intelligence community determined last fall that the Russian government was involved in attempts to influence the results of the U.S. election.
NBC has not independently confirmed the existence of this grand jury - but we have reported on two others, looking into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and the president's former campaign chair Paul Manafort. The former Federal Bureau of Investigation director made headlines earlier in the day when it was revealed that he had impaneled a new grand jury to lead the probe. "There never were. We didn't win because of Russian Federation, we won because of you", he said.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the use of a grand jury. Those transactions, Trump lawyer John Dowd insisted, are "well beyond the mandate of the special counsel".
Things are getting very serious with the investigation into President Trump's campaign ties to Russian Federation.
Cobb said that questions about grand juries typically are kept secret, adding that the White House is in favor of anything that accelerates the conclusion of Mueller's work in a fair way. Mueller's grand jury isn't the same as a grand jury in a typical trial.
This is the second grand jury Mueller has impaneled.
After impaneling a grand jury, Mueller is now free to subpoena documents and interview witnesses under oath, something that would be necessary if the investigation's scope was widened. "The White House is committed to fully cooperating with Mr. Mueller".
If he does decide to move on Mueller, the Senate bills require the President to seek court approval.
The grand jury, which began its work in recent weeks, is a sign that Mueller's inquiry is gaining steam and that it will probably continue for months, the report says.