A new report disclosed on Thursday revealed that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a new grand jury in Washington to investigate Russia's interference in the 2016 elections and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
By employing a grand jury, Mueller will be able to subpoena documents, seek indictments and take witness testimony under oath. The person who confirmed to The Associated Press that Mueller had turned to a grand jury was not authorized to discuss the investigation by name and spoke on condition of anonymity. We learned that detail today from The Wall Street Journal, and reporter Del Quentin Wilber joins us now.
It does not necessarily mean criminal charges are imminent or that they will ever be filed, experts say.
The Wall Street Journal, citing two unnamed people familiar with the matter, said the grand jury started its work in "recent weeks" and is a sign that Mueller's inquiry into Russia's efforts to influence the election and whether it colluded with Donald Trump's presidential campaign is "ramping up". It went viral after it was linked on Twitter by WikiLeaks.
A spokesman for Mueller's team did not return an email seeking comment.
Mueller's reliance on a grand jury is the "logical next step in this investigation" given that it's the traditional method for prosecutors to gather evidence, said Washington defense lawyer Jacob Frenkel. The special counsel would resume his or her position if the panel of judges found no justifiable cause for removal.
Mueller has largely removed the original prosecutors from the case, replacing them with a formidable collection of legal talent and expertise in prosecuting national security, fraud and public corruption cases, arguing matters before the Supreme Court and assessing complicated legal questions.
"With respect to the news of the federal grand jury, I have no reason to believe that the president is under investigation", defense attorney John Dowd told the AP. He is the White House counsel for the president - special counsel for the president. "The White House favors anything that accelerates the conclusion of his work fairly".
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It was not clear what witnesses might appear before the grand jury or what evidence it might be accumulating or presented with.
And it seems they're going to be looking at a lot more than that because if it was just Flynn, they would just be using the same grand jury.
The legislation, sponsored by Democrat Chris Coons and Republican Thom Tillis, would bar a president from directly firing the special counsel without a judicial review. "This suggests that the investigation is bigger and wider than Flynn, perhaps substantially so".
SHAPIRO: And last, just briefly, your piece this afternoon also mentions efforts in Congress to protect Mueller from being fired by the White House.
The move is a sign that the sweeping federal investigation - which includes allegations that Trump campaign officials coordinated with Russia to tilt the election in the Republican's favor - is gathering pace.
"The stock markets are supported by steady growth in earnings", said Mutsumi Kagawa, chief global strategist at Rakuten Securities, noting steady growth in forward earnings in the United States, Japan and elsewhere. Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, has publicly said he has seen no basis for firing him.
The British pound held near its highest in almost 11 months against a broadly weaker dollar ahead of the Bank of England's "Super Thursday", which could shed light on how soon interest rates could be lifted.
WILBER: Yeah, you know, that broke yesterday.
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