WASHINGTON (CBS4) – Special Counsel Robert Mueller will seat a grand jury in his investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

The move comes as a clear sign his probe into the allegations is ramping up.

gettyimages 699394014 Robert Mueller Using Grand Jury, Widens Russia Probe

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, special counsel on the Russian investigation, leaves following a meeting with members of the US Senate Judiciary Committee at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on June 21, 2017. (Credit Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Those familiar with the matter told CBS News the investigation now includes Russian interference in the election, Russian hacking, Russian influence, and possible financial wrongdoing.

Grand juries give prosecutors the flexibility to put any witnesses under oath, given evidence of a crime. Mueller’s expanding team can also seek indictments and subpoena documents.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that a grand jury was impaneled several weeks ago in Washington. It is, however, unclear whether the former FBI director is using an existing grand jury or if he requested a new one.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel in May. He was given a broad mandate to investigate and prosecute any potential crimes. The appointment came after President Trump fired then-FBI director James Comey. That firing was followed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions recusing himself from any investigation.

gettyimages 819430178 Robert Mueller Using Grand Jury, Widens Russia Probe

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 20: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (L), Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and other law enforcement officials hold a news conference to announce an ‘international cybercrime enforcement action’ at the Department of Justice July 20, 2017 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The move does not necessarily mean Mueller will bring charges, former federal prosecutor Thomas Zeno told the paper, but it also shows his seriousness.

“He wouldn’t be doing it if this were winding down,” Zeno said.


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