Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller. (Photographer: Jay Mallin/ Bloomberg News)

Mueller’s D.C. Grand Jury Granted More Time to Investigate

(Bloomberg) -- Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury has more time to complete its work -- and that may mean more indictments are coming.

Beryl Howell, chief judge of the Washington federal court where the panel convenes to hear evidence in secret, has extended the grand jury’s term, court spokeswoman Lisa Klem said on Friday. The panel began hearing evidence in July 2017, two months after Mueller was appointed to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and potential ties to President Donald Trump’s campaign.

That extension "indicates that at least in Robert Mueller’s mind, there’s at least potential additional criminal charges to be brought," said Seth Waxman, a former federal prosecutor in the capital who has been following developments in the probe.

Among the people the panel has indicted: former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort; the president’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn; three Russian businesses and 13 individuals who allegedly conspired to roil the U.S. prior to the election using social media; and a dozen Russian intelligence agents accused of hacking Democrats’ computers.

While Klem declined to say how much longer the jurors may sit, federal rules of criminal procedure allow for a six-month extension upon a court finding that it’s in the public interest.

Expiration of the panel’s term won’t necessarily spell the end of the special counsel’s work either, Waxman said. Mueller could impanel a new grand jury if work remains to be done, the attorney said, explaining that’s something prosecutors prefer not to do because it may result in having to present evidence that had already been heard by the prior panel.

"It would be burdensome to put that testimony before a new grand jury," because sometimes that testimony must be imparted in the form of transcripts read to the new panel, absent context and a live witness’s demeanor, former Chicago federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti said.

Former Justice Department lawyer Ryan Fayhee echoed that point. "They clearly invested a lot in this particular grand jury and they don’t want to redo it," he said.

Still, Mariotti added, "we can conclude that Mueller has put a significant amount of testimony before a particular grand jury and believes that that testimony will likely result in charges within a six-month period."

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