A federal judge has consented to extending a grand jury so that Special Counsel Robert Mueller can continue to bring evidence and seek indictments in the Russia probe.
A grand jury was first impaneled in July of 2017 to consider evidence in the investigation. Mueller was given a broad mandate to investigate any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians as well as related matters.
He has obtained eight convictions so far including three Trump aides: former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, former longtime lawyer Michael Cohen, and former Campaign Chair Paul Manafort.
The 18-month extension was set to expire, and now will continue through the summer with a six-month extension.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has obtained an extension for the federal grand jury hearing evidence in the Russia probe
The grand jury has been meeting in secret in Washington, D.C. per regulations for such investigations.
According to CNN, they last met December 21 for two hours.
The extension was confirmed by an aide to the judge overseeing it said on Friday who declined to be identified by name.
The extension is a sign that Mueller is not done presenting evidence before the grand jury in his investigation of U.S. allegations of Russian interference in the election and any possible coordination between Moscow and Trump’s campaign.
It comes amid continued signals that longtime Trump informal advisor Roger Stone is under scrutiny. Stone himself has said he expects to be indicted.
Trump on Friday repeated his denial of any collusion
The move allows to present evidence and seek further indictments. He ultimately must file a report with the attorney general, in this case Trump-named Acting Attorney General Matt Whitake
Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn arrives for his sentencing hearing for lying to the FBI at the US Federal Court in Washington, DC, USA, 18 December 2018. Flynn, who has cooperated with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, pleaded guilty last year to lying about meetings with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak
Conservative political activist and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi. speaks outside the US Federal District Courthouse in Washington on January 3, 2019, after a hearing in his lawsuit against Russia collusion investigation chief Robert Mueller. Corsi, is suspected of having had advance knowledge that WikiLeaks would, in the summer of 2016, publish a trove of hacked Democratic emails that would prove damaging to Trump’s presidential rival, Hillary Clinton
Chief U.S. District Judge for the District of Columbia Beryl A. Howell allowed the extension of the grand jury panel
The president brought up ‘collusion’ on Friday at a press conference when he got asked about a Democrat’s profane call for his impeachment.
‘You don’t impeach people when they’re doing a good job,’ Trump said.
‘And you don’t impeach people when there was no collusion because there was no collusion,’ he added.
The grand jury was impaneled by the U.S. District Court in Washington in July 2017 for an 18-month term, the limit under federal rules. The term can be extended if the court determines it to be in the public interest to do so.
‘The Chief Judge has confirmed that the term of Grand Jury 17-01 has been extended,’ Lisa Klem, special assistant to Chief Judge Beryl Howell said in a statement.
Howell did not confirm any length of the extension, Klem said.
A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment.
A number of Trump’s allies, including his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, have repeatedly called on Mueller to wrap up his investigation.
Trump has repeatedly railed against the probe as a ‘witch hunt.’
But after repeated calls for it to end by Trump and his associates, Democrats who took control of Congress Thursday have vowed not to let it be shut down.
House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerold Nadler told CNN that he intends to make Mueller’s final report public. Under regulations Mueller must submit his report in secret to the attorney general, but Nadler said he can use a subpoena to force its release.
Russia has denied meddling in the election, contrary to the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that have said Moscow used hacking and propaganda to try to sow discord in the United States and boost Republican Trump’s chances against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Mueller’s investigation and other inquiries have clouded Trump’s two years in office. Mueller has secured more than 30 indictments and guilty pleas and has spawned at least four federal probes.
ROBERT MUELLER’S PROBE SO FAR: EIGHT CONVICTIONS – INCLUDING THREE TOP TRUMP AIDES, A JAILED ATTORNEY AND 25 RUSSIANS ACCUSED
GUILTY: MICHAEL FLYNN
Pleaded guilty to making false statements in December 2017. Awaiting sentence
Flynn was President Trump’s former National Security Advisor and Robert Mueller’s most senior scalp to date. He previously served when he was a three star general as President Obama’s director of the Defense Intelligence Agency but was fired.
He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about his conversations with a Russian ambassador in December 2016. He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.
GUILTY: MICHAEL COHEN
Pleaded guilty to eight counts including fraud and two campaign finance violations in August 2018. Pleaded guilty to further count of lying to Congress in November 2018. Sentenced to three years in prison and $2 million in fines and forfeitures in December 2018
Cohen was Trump’s longtime personal attorney, starting working for him and the Trump Organization in 2007. He is the longest-serving member of Trump’s inner circle to be implicated by Mueller. Cohen professed unswerving devotion to Trump – and organized payments to silence two women who alleged they had sex with the-then candidate: porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. He admitted that payments to both women were felony campaign finance violations – and admitted that he acted at the ‘direction’ of ‘Candidate-1’: Donald Trump.
He also admitted tax fraud by lying about his income from loans he made, money from taxi medallions he owned, and other sources of income, at a cost to the Treasury of $1.3 million.
And he admitted lying to Congress in a rare use of the offense. The judge in his case let him report for prison on March 6 and recommended he serve it in a medium-security facility close to New York City.
GUILTY: PAUL MANAFORT
Found guilty of eight charges of bank and tax fraud in August 2018. Pleaded guilty to two further charges. Awaiting sentence
Manafort worked for Trump’s campaign from March 2016 and chaired it from June to August 2016, overseeing Trump being adopted as Republican candidate at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. He is the most senior campaign official to be implicated by Mueller. Manafort was one of Washington D.C.’s longest-term and most influential lobbyists but in 2015, his money dried up and the next year he turned to Trump for help, offering to be his campaign chairman for free – in the hope of making more money afterwards. But Mueller unwound his previous finances and discovered years of tax and bank fraud as he coined in cash from pro-Russia political parties and oligarchs in Ukraine.
Manafort pleaded not guilty to 18 charges of tax and bank fraud but was convicted of eight counts. The jury was deadlocked on the other 10 charges. A second trial on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent is due in September.
GUILTY: RICK GATES
Pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and making false statements in February 2018. Awaiting sentence
Gates was Manafort’s former deputy at political consulting firm DMP International. He admitted to conspiring to defraud the U.S. government on financial activity, and to lying to investigators about a meeting Manafort had with a member of congress in 2013. As a result of his guilty plea and promise of cooperation, prosecutors vacated charges against Gates on bank fraud, bank fraud conspiracy, failure to disclose foreign bank accounts, filing false tax returns, helping prepare false tax filings, and falsely amending tax returns.
GUILTY AND JAILED: GEORGE PAPADOPOLOUS
Pleaded guilty to making false statements in October 2017. Sentenced to 14 days in September 2018, and reported to prison in November. Served 12 days and released on December 7, 2018
Papadopoulos was a member of Donald Trump’s campaign foreign policy advisory committee. He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about his contacts with London professor Josef Mifsud and Ivan Timofeev, the director of a Russian government-funded think tank.
He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.
GUILTY AND JAILED: RICHARD PINEDO
Pleaded guilty to identity fraud in February 2018. Sentenced to a year in prison
Pinedo is a 28-year-old computer specialist from Santa Paula, California. He admitted to selling bank account numbers to Russian nationals over the internet that he had obtained using stolen identities.
He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.
GUILTY AND JAILED: ALEX VAN DER ZWAAN
Pleaded guilty to making false statements in February 2018. He served a 30-day prison sentence earlier this year and was deported to the Netherlands on his release
Van der Zwaan is a Dutch attorney for Skadden Arps who worked on a Ukrainian political analysis report for Paul Manafort in 2012.
He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about when he last spoke with Rick Gates and Konstantin Kilimnik.
GUILTY: W. SAMUEL PATTEN
Pleaded guilty in August 2018 to failing to register as a lobbyist while doing work for a Ukrainian political party. Awaiting sentence
Patten, a long-time D.C. lobbyist was a business partner of Paul Manafort. He pleaded guilty to admitting to arranging an illegal $50,000 donation to Trump’s inauguration.
He arranged for an American ‘straw donor’ to pay $50,000 to the inaugural committee, knowing that it was actually for a Ukrainian businessman.
Neither the American or the Ukrainian have been named.
CHARGED: KONSTANTIN KILIMNIK
Indicted for obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. At large, probably in Russia
Kilimnik is a former employee of Manafort’s political consulting firm and helped him with lobbying work in Ukraine. He is accused of witness tampering, after he allegedly contacted individuals who had worked with Manafort to remind them that Manafort only performed lobbying work for them outside of the U.S.
He has been linked to Russian intelligence and is currently thought to be in Russia – effectively beyond the reach of extradition by Mueller’s team.
INDICTED: THE RUSSIANS
Twenty-five Russian nationals and three Russian entities have been indicted for conspiracy to defraud the United States. They remain at large in Russia
Two of these Russian nationals were also indicted for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 11 were indicted for conspiracy to launder money. Fifteen of them were also indicted for identity fraud.
Vladimir Putin has ridiculed the charges. Russia effectively bars extradition of its nationals. The only prospect Mueller has of bringing any in front of a U.S. jury is if Interpol has their names on an international stop list – which is not made public – and they set foot in a territory which extradites to the U.S.
INDICTED: MICHAEL FLYNN’S BUSINESS PARTNERS
Bijan Kian (left), number two in now disgraced former national security adviser Mike Flynn’s lobbying company, and the two’s business partner Ekim Alptekin (right) were indicted for conspiracy to lobby illegally. Kian is awaiting trial, Alptekin is still to appear in court
Kian, an Iranian-American was arrested and appeared in court charged with a conspiracy to illegally lobby the U.S government without registering as a foreign agent. Their co-conspirator was Flynn, who is called ‘Person A’ in the indictment and is not charged, offering some insight into what charges he escaped with his plea deal.
Kian, vice-president of Flynn’s former lobbying firm, is alleged to have plotted with Alptekin to try to change U.S. policy on an exiled Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania and who is accused by Turkey’s strongman president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of trying to depose him.
Erdogan’s government wanted him extradited from the U.S. and paid Flynn’s firm through Alptekin for lobbying, including an op-ed in The Hill calling for Gulen to be ejected. Flynn and Kian both lied that the op-ed was not paid for by the Turkish government.
The indictment is a sign of how Mueller is taking an interest in more than just Russian involvement in the 2016 election.