Criminal Investigation of Trump Administration Now Has a Grand Jury
The ongoing investigation conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on various affairs related to the embattled President of the United States has reached a new turning point. A federal grand jury has been impaneled for the purpose of hearing matters connected to the criminal investigation, which started off as a probe into the alleged collusion between Russian operatives and the campaign that elected President Donald Trump. In recent weeks, however, the investigation has extended to include White House officials, Trump’s relatives, business associates, political consultants, and officials with alleged ties to the Kremlin. Although this is the first time the public has learned about the existence of a grand jury in the Trump investigation, the Wall Street Journal reported that the impanelment took place weeks ago and that jurors have already signed off on subpoenas to produce evidence in this case.
In the U.S., a grand jury is typically convened for months to hear federal prosecutors make their cases; unlike cases in which law enforcement agencies conduct investigations independently and seek court approval of warrants, citizens who are members of grand juries are presented with case details and decide on whether the case will proceed to trial. The criminal justice practice of impaneling grand juries is often criticized by defense attorneys who believe that their clients are kept in the dark about what is discussed in closed grand jury sessions. Since this case is being handled by Special Counsel, high-profile defense attorneys may be granted some level of participation, but it should be minimal.
What is certain about this new development in the Trump administration is that a serious criminal investigation is taking place. In recent weeks, investigative reports published by the New Republic and The New York Times indicate that Mueller will potentially look into money laundering ties between the Trump’s business organizations and Russian individuals connected with the Kremlin. These reports suggest that Trump may be indebted to powerful and shadowy Russians who smuggled money in the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union; part of the investigation centers on money laundered through real estate transactions conducted by Trump.
The White House has been quiet about the grand jury revelation, but the President had stated weeks ago that he would not tolerate Mueller investigating his financial affairs, which is currently taking place. With a grand jury convened, Trump is not in a position to hastily fire Mueller, something he could have done about a month ago. Bipartisan proposals in Congress are being discussed to ensure that Trump does not attempt to suddenly dismiss the Special Counsel as the ultimate purpose of a grand jury is to decide if criminal charges should be filed.