The ongoing scandal over possible collusion between Donald Trump and Russia to influence the 2016 United States presidential election may have taken a drastic new turn last week — a turn that could lead directly to criminal indictments and even to Trump’s impeachment — with new reports that a grand jury investigation was underway, looking into the Russia connections.
In fact, the reports say, there have been not one but two grand jury investigations into the Trump Russia scandal underway, at least one of which is connected to the FBI investigation of the Trump Russia connections revealed in March by Director James Comey.
However, are the online reports, which have not been confirmed by any major media outlet as of May 1, actually true? Claude Taylor, a former member of President Bill Clinton’s White House staff who is now widely described as a “Washington insider,” made the dramatic claim on his Twitter account last Friday.
This just in from a source with knowledge of Comey’s investigation. “two grand juries have convened and I know that one is almost complete.”
— Claude Taylor (@TrueFactsStated) April 29, 2017
While Taylor’s claim was not picked up by any major media outlet, a Republican political consultant and columnist for the Daily Beast online magazine, Rick Wilson, offered his own confirmation one day later, indicating that sources had also told him of the grand jury investigations.
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) April 29, 2017
Taylor also reiterated his claim on Saturday, adding that he was simply repeating what sources had told him.
— Claude Taylor (@TrueFactsStated) April 29, 2017
In fact, Taylor said in another Twitter posting that he is so confident that his information about the supposed grand jury investigations is correct, that is willing to make a wager with any media member willing to take him up on it that not only are the grand jury probes real but that they will soon return criminal indictments.
The two separate grand jury probes, according to Taylor’s as-yet unconfirmed reports, focus on two separate topics both under the wider heading of the Trump Russian scandal. The allegedly more extensive of the two investigations focuses, Taylor says, on violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA.
Longtime Trump associate and former campaign manager Paul Manafort recently said he would register as a foreign agent and should have done so earlier, due to paid political work he performed for the government of Ukraine between 2012 and 2014 when that country was led by pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych.
Fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn also recently registered as a foreign agent after admitting that he had performed paid work for the government of Turkey during the presidential campaign, when he was a top Trump surrogate and foreign policy adviser.
However, according to Taylor, the FARA probe goes further than Manafort and Flynn, and “loops in the Russians in Trump Tower.”
The “Russians in Trump Tower,” where Trump also makes his own personal residence, included Vyacheslav Ivanov, the “godfather” of the Russian crime syndicate in the United States, who was deported in 2004 and assassinated in Moscow five years later. Ivanov kept an address in Trump Tower and reportedly had private Trump Organization phone numbers in his personal address book.
More recently, between about 2011 and 2013, a Russian crime syndicate gambling ring operated out of Trump Tower — just three floors below Trump’s own lavish, three-story apartment.
The second grand jury investigation reported by Taylor is said to focus on a Russian money-laundering operation. That investigation, according to the unconfirmed reports, is being operated by the New York State Attorney General’s office and could return criminal indictments — any of which, if tied to Trump, could be considered offenses worthy of impeachment.
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[Featured Images by Jae C. Hong, Cliff Owen/AP Images]