A grand jury impaneled sometime in recent weeks by Special Counsel Robert Mueller has issued subpoenas related to Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, according to a Reuters report published Thursday. Although President Donald Trump has routinely called the investigation into allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign a "witch hunt," Mueller's decision to impanel a grand jury could signal the probe is intensifying.
According to Reuters, the grand jury Mueller impaneled issued subpoenas regarding a meeting Trump Jr. held June 9, 2016 with Veselnitskaya, who had reportedly promised to supply damaging intel on Trump's rival, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Trump's then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, now a senior White House adviser, were also reportedly present at the meeting. Although the specifics of the subpoenas remained unclear Thursday, CNN reported they sought "both documents and testimony from people involved in the meeting."
Although Trump Jr. initially claimed the meeting centered on Russian adoptions, he later released a chain of emails that showed he knew the meeting pertained to "information that would incriminate Hillary." In the first email Trump Jr. is told the information "is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump."
The move gives Mueller enormous power to subpoena documents and compel witnesses to testify under oath. https://t.co/Wuu6Kqr25j— Anthony De Rosa 🗽 (@Anthony) August 3, 2017
The Wall Street Journal was the first to report that Mueller had impaneled a grand jury in Washington to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and allegation of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. President Trump has repeatedly denied allegations of collusion and called the investigation a "witch hunt."
According to the Wall Street Journal, Special Counsel to the President Ty Cobb admitted he was unaware Mueller had impaneled a grand jury. "Grand jury matters are typically secret," Cobb told the Wall Street Journal. "The White House favors anything that accelerates the conclusion of his work fairly." Cobb also said the White House was "committed to fully cooperating" with Mueller's investigation.
It should be noted that while impaneling a grand jury may signal Mueller's investigation into Russia is far from over, it doesn't mean charges are imminent. Rather a grand jury examines the evidence to determine if charges should be brought against someone.
Moreover, this isn't the only grand jury Mueller is overseeing. Reuters reported in June that Mueller had taken control of a grand jury investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's dealings with a Turkish businessman as part of a broader investigation into Flynn's contact with Russian officials.
It remains unclear how long Mueller's investigation into allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign will last.