The special counsel investigating claims of Russian meddling in the US election has begun using a grand jury in Washington, reports say.
The move suggests Robert Mueller may be taking a more aggressive approach to gathering data on possible collusion with Donald Trump’s campaign team.
Grand juries are used to issue subpoenas to compel people to testify.
There is a saying in the US that “a grand jury will indict a Ham Sandwich.” Meaning, if a grand jury is convened in any case there will almost certainly be an indictment.
The president has again poured scorn on the inquiry, telling a rally in West Virginia it was a “total fabrication”.
In the US, grand juries are composed of members of the public who hear evidence in secret.
Prosecutors use them to gather evidence, as they can compel people to testify or hand over documentation.
Although they consider whether evidence in any case is strong enough to issue indictments for a criminal trial, their use does not mean such an indictment is imminent or even probable.
The juries do not decide the innocence or guilt of a potential defendant.