The Slatest

Bob Mueller Has Impaneled a Grand Jury, Giving New Teeth to the Russia Investigation

Bob Mueller.

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a federal grand jury in Washington as part of his investigation into the Trump campaign’s role in Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, reports the Wall Street Journal. The development confirms what was already quite clear from the hiring spree Mueller has been on since being appointed in May: this thing is serious, and it’s not going away any time soon. That said, as tempting as it might be to assume that the formation of a grand jury means Mueller is definitely trying to indict someone, the truth is it’s hard to extrapolate all that much from it. As one former federal prosecutor told me, “All it means is that he’s investigating, not that charges are forthcoming.” 

The grand jury, which the Journal says began its work “in recent weeks,” does give Mueller and his team subpoena powers that they didn’t have before—though even on that score, it’s not clear how much is changing given that Mueller was already overseeing the grand jury investigation into Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, a central figure in the Russia scandal.

Still, people are excited. Maybe now some of Trump’s friends and family will have to testify under oath and turn over documents. And if they lie or do anything untoward with documents, that could put them in serious legal jeopardy. Also, Trump will probably get angry and post some wild tweets tomorrow—though so far the only response from the White House on the subject has been a statement from spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders reminding people that a bunch of months ago, former FBI director James Comey said “three times” that Trump was not under investigation.

Perhaps the best reaction to Thursday’s news, though, came from alt-right Trump supporter Jack Posobiec, who tweeted a variation of a famous quote about how a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich if that’s what a prosecutor wanted. 

“The fact Mueller is going for a grand jury shows there is very little actual case against Trump,” Posobiec wrote. Put another way, the fact that it’s easy for prosecutors to indict people using a grand jury means that anytime a prosecutor uses a grand jury, it’s because he or she has a weak case. Because otherwise the prosecutor would use… a different kind of jury? This is logic so breathtakingly strained that you almost have to applaud the guy. Here’s hoping Trump pal Roger Stone retweets him again and this becomes an official Trump talking point.