Grand jury subpoenas have been issued in connection with a June 2016 meeting that included U.S. President Donald Trump’s son, his son-in-law and a Russian lawyer, two sources told Reuters on Thursday, in a sign that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is gathering pace.
The sources added that Mueller had convened a grand jury in Washington to help investigate allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.
Earlier on Thursday, the Wall Street Journal similarly reported that Mueller was using a grand jury in Washington. The newspaper reports this “signals that Mr. Mueller’s inquiry will likely continue for months.”
Russia has loomed large over the first six months of the Trump presidency. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia worked to tilt the presidential election in Trump’s favour.
Mueller, who was appointed special counsel in May, is leading the probe, which also examines potential collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign.
Moscow denies any meddling and Trump denies any collusion by his campaign, while regularly denouncing the investigations as political witch hunts.
Mueller’s use of a grand jury could give him expansive tools to pursue evidence, including issuing subpoenas and compelling witnesses to testify. The impaneling of the grand jury was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
A spokesperson for Mueller declined comment.
Ty Cobb, special counsel to the president, said he was not aware that Mueller had started using a new grand jury.
“Grand jury matters are typically secret,” Cobb said.
A lawyer for Trump, Jay Sekulow, appeared to downplay the significance of a grand jury, telling Fox News: “This is not an unusual move.”
A grand jury is a group of ordinary citizens who, working behind closed doors, consider evidence of potential criminal wrongdoing that a prosecutor is investigating and decide whether charges should be brought.
“This is a serious development in the Mueller investigation,” said Paul Callan, a former prosecutor.
“Given that Mueller inherited an investigation that began months ago, it would suggest that he has uncovered information pointing in the direction of criminal charges. But against whom is the real question.”
Former U.S. federal prosecutor Nick Ackerman told CBC News Network, “We’re not going to know what’s going on, we may not even know who’s ultimately subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury, none of that is going to be…