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A federal judge has extended by up to six months the authorization for the grand jury that special counsel Robert Mueller is using to conduct his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and other issues, including ones related to people in President Donald Trump's orbit.
That original 18-month authorization for the grand jury designated "17-1," which began sitting in July 2017, was set to expire Sunday.
"I can confirm that grand jury 17-1 has been extended, can continue to sit," said Lisa Klem, administrative assistant to Judge Beryl Howell, chief judge of U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
Under federal rules, a grand jury can serve no longer than 18 months unless the chief judge extends its service by a period of six months or less "upon determination that such extension is in the public interest."
That grand jury's work of reviewing evidence and hearing testimony from witnesses has led to multiple criminal cases against people connected to Trump, as well as to indictments against Russian nationals accused to interfering in the election and U.S. political processes.
Mueller is continuing to probe possible collusion by Trump's campaign with Russians, and also is investigating possible obstruction of justice by the president.
Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. And to date, the special counsel has not charged anyone in Trump's orbit with crimes related to foreign interference in the presidential election.
A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment when contacted by CNBC. The White House had no immediate comment.
Since being appointed special counsel in 2017, Mueller, a former FBI director, has obtained guilty pleas from Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen for lying to Congress, Trump's first national security advisor, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, for making false statements and Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, for multiple crimes.
Manafort's business associate, Rick Gates, who also worked on Trump's campaign, pleaded guilty in early 2018 to making false statements and financial crimes. George Papadopoulos, who had been an advisor on Trump's presidential campaign, pleaded guilty in October 2017 to making false statements to the FBI in another case lodged by Mueller.