The grand jury witnesses arrive one by one at the windowless room in the federal courthouse on Constitution Avenue in downtown Washington. They are struck first by how commonplace the setting feels – more classroom than courtroom, two witnesses said.One of special counsel Robert Mueller III’s prosecutors stands at a lectern. The jurors, diverse by age and ethnicity, are attentive and take notes. The questioning is polite yet aggressive, surprising witnesses with its precision and often accompanied by evidence – including text messages and emails – displayed on a large old-fashioned overhead projector.
The investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, which hits its one-year mark Thursday, has formed the cloudy backdrop of Donald Trump’s presidency – a rolling fog of controversy, much of it self-inflicted, that is a near-constant distraction for the commander in chief.