Special Counsel Robert Mueller and team step up formal investigation on multiple fronts

Developments on Day 196 of the Trump Administration:

Grand Jury Empanelled for “Weeks” in Trump-Russia Affair

A grand jury in Washington DC has been empanelled for weeks to consider evidence in the Trump-Russia investigation, expanding the scope of the inquiry by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Mueller and his team have begun issuing subpoenas, including for documents related to the business dealings of Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor. They have reportedly summoned information over the June 2016 between Trump advisors — Donald Trump Jr.; Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner; and Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort — with three Kremlin-linked envoys.

Subpoenas were already issued by another panel in northern Virginia for the records of Manafort, who has been involved in dealings with pro-Russian Ukrainian interests. They were linked to the inquiry over Flynn, who resigned in mid-February after he misled the FBI over his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak in December 2016.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the Washington grand jury’s existence on Thursday, as CNN cited “people familiar with the investigation” that the Mueller team is focusing on financial affairs, including those of Donald Trump Sr.

The investigation is also said to be considered if Trump obstructed justice over his firing of FBI Director James Comey in May.

Trump’s special counsel Ty Cobb said that he had not been aware of the grand jury’s empanelling:

Grand jury matters are typically secret. The White House favors anything that accelerates the conclusion of his work fairly.

The White House is committed to fully cooperating with Mr. Mueller.

Seeking respite in a rally of supporters, Trump said last night in West Virginia, “They’re trying to cheat you out of the leadership that you want with a fake story….The reason why Democrats only talk about the totally made-up Russia story is because they have no message, no agenda, and no vision.”

Without citing Mueller by name, he said prosecutors should be looking at Hillary Clinton and her “33,000 deleted e-mails”. The crowd responded with a chant familiar from the Trump campaign, “Lock her up.”

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, who announced his switch from the Democratic to Republican parties, tried to make the investigation go away: “What is wrong with us as a people? Have we not heard enough about the Russians?”