Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s decision to impanel a grand jury in Washington, D.C. will prove “very unfavorable” to President Trump, in part because of the “ethnic and racial composition” of jury members, says constitutional lawyer Alan Dershowitz.
“I think it’s a tactical move designed to send a message that if the prosecutor decides to prosecute, he will have a real advantage with the jury pool where the case will be held,” Dershowitz said in an interview on Friday with WABC radio host Rita Cosby.
The retired Harvard Law School professor was responding to new reports that Mueller has impaneled a grand jury in Washington D.C. in addition to one already active in Alexandria, Va.
The Virginia grand jury has reportedly been issuing subpoenas as part of an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. But Mueller’s decision to impanel a new grand jury in a different jurisdiction has been the subject of heavy analysis.
The formation of a new grand jury is being interpreted as a signal that Mueller’s investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government is heating up. The grand jury will have the power to issue subpoenas and compel witnesses to testify under oath.
Some legal analysts noted that Mueller is more familiar with judges in the DC court as opposed to the one in Alexandria. The DC court is also much closer geographically to the special counsel’s office than is the court in Virginia.
Dershowitz’s analysis adds another variable to the mix.
“It gives the prosecutor the power to indict in the District of Columbia, which is a district that is heavily Democratic, and would have a jury pool very unfavorable to Trump and the Trump Administration,” said Dershowitz, a Democrat who has at times defended Trump against what he sees as an overzealous collusion investigation.
“It gives the prosecutor a tremendous tactical advantage,” he continued, asserting that the District of Columbia “is always solidly Democratic and has an ethnic and racial composition that might be very unfavorable to the Trump Administration.”
“So I see the significance not so much that he impaneled the grand jury – you have to impanel the grand jury to get subpoena power — but where he impaneled it.”