Sen. Thom Tillis and Sen. Chris Coons introduced the Special Counsel Integrity Act on Thursday.
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WASHINGTON — Special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly tapping a federal grand jury in Washington to advance the federal investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election, the probe is intensifying and could go on for months or years.
The move would give Mueller, a former FBI director, broad authority to subpoena documents and compel witnesses to testify under oath.
Mueller has been investigating possible collusion between Trump associates and Russians who sought to influence last year’s election by hacking Democrats. The probe’s expansion is also virtually sure to incense President Trump, who is already furious with the Russia investigation he calls a “witch hunt.”
The Wall Street Journal, which broke the story Thursday, reported that the grand jury began working in recent weeks. The panel has issued subpoenas relating to the controversial June 2016 meeting between the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian lawyer, Reuters reported.
Last month, Trump Jr. released emails showing he arranged the meeting in the hopes of obtaining damaging information about his father’s election opponent Hillary Clinton – even after he was told it would come from the Russian government.
President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, along with then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, were also in the meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, and others with Russian ties.
Josh Stueve, a spokesman for Mueller, declined to comment on the reports.
Yet legal analysts characterized Mueller’s use of a grand jury as a serious escalation of an inquiry that he began overseeing in May.
“This suggests that there is evidence that a crime may have been committed and there is a need to apply the legal tools a grand jury can bring to bear,’’ said Jimmy Gurule, a former assistant attorney general in the administration of President George H.W. Bush.
“With a grand jury, Mueller can compel witnesses to testify and collect documents that are central to the investigation.’’
Through witness testimony and documents, Gurule said, prosecutors are able…