Here’s what we learned about the ongoing Russia scandal in the last hour:
1. WSJ: Special Counsel Robert Mueller impaneled a grand jury in Washington DC. Legal experts agree this will help Mueller subpoena records and testimony from witnesses.
- “Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury in Washington to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, a sign that his inquiry is growing in intensity and entering a new phase, according to two people familiar with the matter. The grand jury, which began its work in recent weeks, is a sign that Mr. Mueller’s inquiry is ramping up and that it will likely continue for months. Mr. Mueller is investigating Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election and whether President Donald Trump’s campaign or associates colluded with the Kremlin as part of that effort. […] Grand juries are powerful investigative tools that allow prosecutors to subpoena documents, put witnesses under oath and seek indictments, if there is evidence of a crime. Legal experts said that the decision by Mr. Mueller to impanel a grand jury suggests he believes he will need to subpoena records and take testimony from witnesses.”
2. Reuters: The grand jury issued subpoenas related to Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort’s meeting in June 2016 with Russian operatives.
- “Grand jury subpoenas have been issued in connection with the June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr., a Russian lawyer and others, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday.”
3. CNN: The Special Counsel investigation is increasingly focused on Trump’s shady finances, 2016 communications intercepted by US intelligence included Russian operatives talking about Paul Manafort, and Trump’s campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page has been under secret intelligence surveillance since 2014.
- “Federal investigators exploring whether Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian spies have seized on Trump and his associates’ financial ties to Russia as one of the most fertile avenues for moving their probe forward, according to people familiar with the investigation.” […]
- “In the summer of 2016, US intelligence agencies noticed a spate of curious contacts between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian intelligence, according to current and former US officials briefed on the investigation. James Comey, in his Senate testimony, said the FBI opened an investigation into Trump campaign-Russia connections in July 2016. The strands of the two investigations began to merge. In the months that followed, investigators turned up intercepted communications appearing to show efforts by Russian operatives to coordinate with Trump associates on damaging Hillary Clinton’s election prospects, officials said. CNN has learned those communications included references to campaign chairman Paul Manafort.” […]
- “Page had been the subject of a secret intelligence surveillance warrant since 2014, earlier than had been previously reported, US officials briefed on the probe told CNN.When information emerged last summer suggesting that the Russians were attempting to cultivate Page as a way to gain an entrée into the Trump campaign, the FBI renewed its interest in him. Initially, FBI counterintelligence investigators saw the campaign as possible victims being targeted by Russian intelligence.”