This comes some 24 hours after Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein made big news by telling Fox News Sunday that if the special counsel finds evidence of crimes in the course of his probe into Russian sabotage of our election – it may be within the scope of his investigation to pursue them.
In these seemingly disparate developments it is hard not to discern the potential for a volatile combustible combination.
Because Trump is undermining our democratic norms and processes in so many ways it is often easy to focus on each of them in isolation rather than as part of the same larger story.
But taken together they point to a possible climax in which Trump – cornered by revelations unearthed by Robert S. Mueller III’s probe and by ongoing media scrutiny – seeks to rally his supporters behind the idea that this outcome represents not the imposition of accountability by functioning civic institutions but rather an effort to steal the election from him – and from them.
This echoed Trump himself – who recently told a rally that the probe is an effort to ‘cheat’ his supporters out of their legitimately elected leadership (i.e., him) with a ‘fake story’ that is ‘demeaning to our country and demeaning to our Constitution’.
The legal net around Donald Trump’s beleaguered presidency tightened dramatically this week with news that a grand jury has been established a few hundred yards from the White House – to pursue evidence of collusion with the Kremlin.
It is a troubling development for the president for several reasons.
In the US legal system a grand jury has broad powers to issue subpoenas and ultimately indictments at the request of prosecutors.
‘This sets the scene of action for criminal trials where charges will be laid – in the worst possible jurisdiction for Trump’ said Scott Horton – a lecturer at Columbia Law School.
‘Compared to Virginia Republicans in DC are few and far between’.
The grand jury is also clear evidence that the inquiry is widening – not tapering off.
It suggests that the special counsel is exploring possible crimes committed inside the District of Columbia.
Looks like it may have been a yuge mistake for Trump to warn Mueller away from his finances.
The Department of Justice’s Russia probe appears to have greatly accelerated in intensity.
On the same day that two senators – a Republican and a Democrat – unveiled two bills aimed at protecting the special counsel from being removed from his job by President Donald Trump – the Wall Street Journal reported that Robert Mueller has now impaneled a grand jury.
Unnamed sources familiar with the matter told the Journal that Mueller has impaneled a separate grand jury to solely focus on the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
The grand jury – the Journal reported ‘began its work in recent weeks’.One year after the FBI opened its investigation – it looks like things might be starting to get serious.
A grand jury is a very powerful investigative tool and Mueller has broad latitude to expand the prove wherever the evidence leads.
CNN reported on Thursday that Mueller’s probe ‘has widened to focus on possible financial crimes – some unconnected to the 2016 elections – alongside the ongoing scrutiny of possible illegal coordination with Russian spy agencies and alleged attempts by President Donald Trump and others to obstruct the FBI investigation’.
Bloomberg also reported last month that Mueller’s probe ‘also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort’.
The Department of Justice has appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate alleged ties between the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump and Russian operatives. Mueller will also investigate Russian intervention in the election generally.
Mueller (72) was appointed FBI director by George W Bush and served 12 years – including for the majority of Barack Obama’s presidency.
He said in a statement on Wednesday: ‘I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability’.