Special counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury in the Trump-Russia investigation. (More)

Impanel, empanel, impaneled, empaneled, impanelled, empanelled, impaneling, empaneling, impanelling, empanelling

The first rule of newswriting is to lead with the most important information, so … Merriam-Webster lists empanel as a variant spelling of impanel, with acceptable past-tense and gerund forms of each including both one and two Ls. In short, you can spell it pretty much however you want. You’re welcome.

“You start at the core and then move to the periphery”

Last night, both the Wall Street Journal and Reuters reported that Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury:

Grand jury subpoenas have been issued in connection with the June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr., a Russian lawyer and others, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday.

The sources also said special counsel Robert Mueller had convened a grand jury in Washington to investigate allegations of Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections.

CNN added that the investigation also includes the God-King’s and his family’s and aides’ past and present financial dealings with Russia:

Federal investigators exploring whether Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian spies have seized on Trump and his associates’ financial ties to Russia as one of the most fertile avenues for moving their probe forward, according to people familiar with the investigation.

The web of financial ties could offer a more concrete path toward potential prosecution than the broader and murkier questions of collusion in the 2016 campaign, these sources said.
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Trump has denied any collusion and maintains that his business empire has “no involvement with Russia” and that he has “no loans, no nothing” from Russia. His lawyers have detailed a few exceptions, including the Miss Universe pageant he held in Moscow and the Florida mansion he sold to a Russian oligarch in 2008. Trump earned more than $100 million from those deals, according to his lawyers.

“This is like any investigation,” says one person briefed on the probe. “You start at the core and then move to the periphery. You have to explore the finances. Where this is going is no different from any investigation.”

That would, presumably, include whether the God-King or anyone in his circle knew of and expressly or implicitly approved of Russians laundering money through several of the God-King’s properties, a case that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was pursuing until the God-King fired him.

“The president is not thinking about firing Robert Mueller”

The Washington Post’s Karoun Demirjian reports that there are now two Senate bills that would limit the God-King’s ability to fire Mueller:

Two bipartisan pairs of senators unveiled legislation Thursday to prevent President Trump from firing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III without cause – or at least a reason good enough to convince a panel of federal judges.

Senators have raised concerns that the president might try to rearrange his administration to get rid of Mueller, who is spearheading a probe of Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election and any possible collusion between the Kremlin and members of the Trump campaign and transition teams.
[…]
The two proposals – one from [Sen. Thom] Tillis (R-NC) and Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-DE) and the other from Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) – each seek to check the executive branch’s ability to fire a special counsel, by putting the question to a three-judge panel from the federal courts. They differ in when that panel gets to weigh in on the decision.

Graham and Booker’s proposal, which also has backing from Judiciary Committee Democrats Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), would require the judges panel to review any attorney general’s decision to fire a special counsel before that firing could take effect. Tillis and Coons’ proposal would let the firing proceed according to current regulations, which they codify in the bill – but the fired special counsel would have the right to contest the administration’s decision in court. In that scenario, the judges panel would have two weeks from the day the special counsel’s case is filed to complete their review and determine whether the termination was acceptable.

The God-King’s attorney insists that’s unnecessary:

In an interview Thursday with Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto, Sekulow dismissed rumors that Trump is considering firing Mueller.

“The president is not thinking about firing Robert Mueller,” Sekulow told host Neil Cavuto, “so the speculation that’s out there is just incorrect.”

Of course, the God-King also said he wouldn’t fire FBI Director James Comey, right up until he did. So even if Sekulow’s claim were accurate – and I doubt it is – the God-King could have another of his wee-hours tantrums. But the Washington Post’s James Hohmann still believes that Sekulow’s statement limits the God-King:

Every time a Trump lawyer or White House official says something like that publicly, it’s harder to justify getting rid of Mueller down the road. A good case would be made that the president changed his mind because of some meaningful development in the investigation. That would look like Trump is trying to interfere with the justice system, which would further inflame public opinion against him. Again, that doesn’t mean the president would not take his chances and try such a gambit if he was really desperate. But there’s now a batch of clips like this one from Sekulow on Fox that would be difficult to explain away.

Maybe. But I don’t think the God-King would worry about whether “that would be difficult to explain away.” This is, after all, a man who explained away “I like to grab ’em by the pussy.”

A unanimous Senate also made sure the God-King can’t pull a fast one during the upcoming recess:

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), doing wrap up for the entire Senate, locked in nine “pro-forma” sessions – brief meetings that normally last roughly a minute.

The move, which requires the agreement of every senator, means the Senate will be in session every three business days throughout the August recess.

That tanks the Keep Firing People Until You Find Someone Willing To Fire Mueller plan.

“Hey hey! Look over here! Over here!”

On a lighter note, the Twitterati had a field day with the difference in MSNBC’s, CNN’s, and Fox News’ coverage:

And my personal favorite:

I’ve done that in the BPI hot tub faculty lounge squirrel bath. Just not on purpose.

“It means he has found something, some evidence, of some criminal behavior”

In fact Fox News did not completely ignore the story. Aside from Sekulow’s interview, above, Cavuto also called in former judge Andrew Napolitano:

Soon after the story broke, host Neil Cavuto had Judge Andrew Napolitano, Fox’s legal expert, call in to try to assuage the cable news network’s largely pro-Trump viewers. It didn’t work.

“It’s a sign that Bob Mueller is going at least several steps beyond where Jim Comey went in the investigation of Mrs. Clinton [and her emails],” Napolitano said. “It is a sign that he has found something, from some source, and that is going to be explained to the grand jury in order to persuade them to vote to issue a subpoena.”

Sensing the gravity of that statement, Cavuto veered to a question about process before coming back to the central question: how bad is this? Judge Napolitano did not offer the answer Fox News fans were hoping for.

“It means he has found something, some evidence, of some criminal behavior, which has caused him to want to dig deeper, and the instrument for digging deeper is a subpoena, and only a grand jury can issue a subpoena.”

Now where did I leave my water skis….

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Photo Credit: Larry Downing (Reuters)

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Good day and good nuts