Sunday, August 6, 2017

Vox -- How important is it that Mueller has formed a grand jury? I asked 20 legal experts (VIDEO)

What does Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s empanelment of a grand jury mean to the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election?

Does it suggest the case is broadening in scope? Should we assume that indictments or subpoenas are next?

In short, it’s a very significant step. It is a big deal. Robert Reich says “We're entering dangerous territory, folks. As the investigation escalates, Trump could throw the country into a full-blown constitutional crisis.

Vox Media and Robert Reich provide details:

First, here’s an excerpted summary of Vox’s Sean Illing’s findings:

Nine of the [20] experts say this is a significant but not necessarily explosive development. It means the case is progressing and that perhaps Mueller believes he has compelling evidence of wrongdoing. Especially significant, according to Fordham law professor Jed Shugerman, is the fact that Mueller has requested a grand jury focused on Russia: “That commitment means that 1) Mueller expects this new grand jury to be doing a lot of special work, and 2) it will be reviewing classified material.”

Eleven of the experts say this is an inevitable step in the process and therefore doesn’t tell us all that much. “The real news,” says Ric Simmons, a law professor at Ohio State University, “would be if Mueller had not eventually impaneled a grand jury.”

Robert Reich says there are three big developments in Mueller's investigation:

1) Mueller has impaneled a grand jury to hear evidence -- a step towards criminal indictments. Grand juries give prosecutors the ability to subpoena documents and call witnesses. It could still be months before charges are brought.

2) Investigators are looking at Trump's potential financial ties to Russia. Financial crimes experts are scrutinizing business deals, former associates, and property sales.

3) Subpoenas have been issued in connection to the Trump campaign's meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. Campaign manager Paul Manafort, Don Jr., and Jared Kushner agreed to meet with her after being promised information against Hillary Clinton provided "as part of a Russian government effort" to help Trump.

Meanwhile, members of Congress have moved to protect the investigation. Senators Chris Coons, a Democrat, and Thom Tillis, a Republican, today proposed legislation that would make it harder for Trump to fire Mueller. Last week, Trump hinted that an inquiry into his finances would cross the line, triggering Mueller's removal.

By Sean Illing