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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Inquiry into Trump and Russia ramps up with appointment of Grand Jury

The Special Counsel's investigation is stepping up

Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, is likely to be focussed on in the investigation. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, is likely to be focussed on in the investigation. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Special counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury in Washington to investigate allegations of Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing two unnamed people familiar with the matter.

It is believed the jury has issued subpoenas over the June 2016 meeting between President Donald Trump's son and a Russian lawyer.

US President Trump has poured refuted on any suggestion his team colluded with the Kremlin to beat Hillary Clinton.

The move is a sign that the the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election is gaining speed.

The newspaper reported that the grand jury, which began its work in recent weeks, signals that the inquiry will likely last for months.

Ty Cobb, special counsel to the president, said “he wasn’t aware that Mr. Mueller had started using a new grand jury.”

“Grand jury matters are typically secret, the White House favors anything that accelerates the conclusion of his work fairly.…The White House is committed to fully cooperating with Mr. Mueller” he said.

The appointment of a Grand Jury would allow prosecutors to subpoena documents, put witnesses under oath and seek indictments, if there is evidence of a crime, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In the US legal system, grand juries are set up to consider whether evidence in any case is strong enough for indictments to be issued for a criminal trial. They do not decide the innocence or guilt of a potential defendant.

“This is yet a further sign that there is a long-term, large-scale series of prosecutions being contemplated and being pursued by the special counsel,” said Stephen I. Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas told the Wall Street Journal.

The paper also said that Greg Andres, a top partner in a powerhouse New York law firm, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, has joined Mr. Mueller’s team.

This comes as Congress moved this week to protect Mr. Mueller’s position and independence.

The news of a grand jury comes up as the US President prepares to take a 17-day-vacation to New Jersey later this week.