August 3, 2017 5:22 pm -

UPDATED, 8:00pmEDT – Another shoe drops:

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III began using a grand jury in federal court in Washington several weeks ago as part of his investigation of possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign, according to two people familiar with the inquiry.

The development is a sign that investigators continue to aggressively gather evidence in the case, and that Mueller is taking full control of a probe that predated him.

In recent weeks and months, Mueller has been expanding the legal team working on the matter, and recently added Greg Andres, a longtime white-collar lawyer specializing in foreign bribery who previously worked in the Justice Department’s criminal division.

Mueller’s investigation now includes a look at whether President Trump obstructed justice by firing FBI Director James B. Comey, as well as deep dives into financial and other dealings of former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Federal prosecutors had previously been using a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia, and even before Mueller was appointed, had increased their activity, issuing subpoenas and taking other investigative steps.

That last paragraph has been well-known to Twitter users following the accounts of Claude Taylor and Louise Mensch.

CNN adds this delicious detail:

Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller has issued grand jury subpoenas related to Donald Trump Jr.’s 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The subpoena seeks both documents and testimony from people involved in the meeting, CNN has learned. That meeting has drawn scrutiny since an email exchange beforehand indicated the Russians offered damaging information on Hillary Clinton.

Many of Trump’s subordinates aren’t calling it a witch hunt – in fact, the flop sweat is palpable because it looks as if Mueller is building a robust case of obstruction of justice against members of Team Trump:

Federal law enforcement officials have told Vox that acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe warned top law enforcement officials they should consider themselves witnesses in any investigation into whether President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice.

The warning came after Mueller was appointed as a special counsel to oversee the investigation into ties between Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives. Mueller is also investigating whether Trump committed obstruction of justice by firing former FBI chief James Comey in May.

As many as ten of the nation’s top law enforcement officials could be questioned about the case. Notes taken by the officials are also likely to be used as evidence.

“What you are going to have is the potential for a powerful obstruction case,” one senior law enforcement official told Vox. “You are going to have the [former] FBI director testify, and then the acting director, the chief of staff to the FBI director, the FBI’s general counsel, and then others, one right after another.”

[The full Vox article is here.]

Here’s a fun fact!

Grand juries, at least at the federal level, almost always vote to indict people accused by prosecutors of a crime. As you can see in the chart above, federal prosecutors pursued over 160,000 cases against defendants in 2009-2010 (the last period for which there is data), and grand juries only voted not to return an indictment in 11. Prosecutors decided not to pursue charges in thousands of cases for a host of other reasons, such as weak evidence or other authorities were pursuing the case.

Trump has tweeted frequently about Mueller, in a vain attempt to convince his army of deplorable that it’s all “fake news” and (as noted above) a “witch hunt.”

But he has not tweeted about an investigation that holds the promise of being even worse not only for the real estate mogul but his family and associates, including Felix Sater.

Over the last week, former Clinton aide and exceptionally well-connected campaign guru Claude Taylor – who had reported several months ago that a grand jury had been empaneled in the Eastern District of Virginia to examine evidence against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn – has been dropping breadcrumbs on Twitter about investigations into Trump by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman:

We can confirm through our own source who is thisclose to the NY Attorney General’s office that multiple investigations are under way into Donald Trump’s business dealings in New York, including “use of Trump properties in a money laundering scheme.” And while we don’t have confirmation on either the reported Russian organized crime or human trafficking investigations, we will again point out that Claude has been months ahead of the mainstream media – and, as one character famously said in the film version of Barbarians at the Gate, “Rumor’s just a premature fact.”

And there’s one other key point: The Donald would not have pardon power over charges brought by Schneiderman or convictions in New York state court.

According to all the information we have been able to gather, Schneiderman is meticulous, so do not expect indictments next week – but don’t be caught off guard if they start to flow in the fall.

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.