On August 3, the Wall Street Journal reported, "Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury in Washington to investigate Russia's interference in the 2016 elections."
The media outlet elaborated that the institution of grand juries is an "investigative tool" which allows prosecutors "to subpoena documents, put witnesses under oath and seek indictments" in case there is ample evidence of a crime.
US President Donald Trump denounced the recent development as an effort "to cheat" the American people "out of the leadership" during a rally in Huntington, West Virginia, reiterating that the narrative of his "collusion" with Russia is nothing but a total fabrication.
"They're trying to cheat you out of the leadership that you want with a fake story that is demeaning to all of us. And most importantly, demeaning to our country and demeaning to our Constitution," Trump told the rally.
"The Russia story is a total fabrication. It's just an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics," the US president added.In May 2017, former FBI chief Mueller was appointed as special counsel to oversee the Justice Department's inquiry into "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump, and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation."
For its part, the Kremlin denied the allegations as nonsensical, referring to the fact that there is completely no evidence to back such claims.
The question then arises how will the intensification of the "Russia probe" affect the relationship between Moscow and Washington.
According to Petrenko, whatever happens in regard to the current investigation into the alleged Russian meddling in the US 2016 presidential election and supposed role of the Trump campaign will by no means affect the existing status quo.
The truth of the matter is that the US-Russian relationship has already hit rock bottom with no prospect of any potential improvement in sight.
"[The enlistment of a grand jury] is a signal that the work has intensified, but I doubt that it can make any adjustments to the situation in general, because the situation in bilateral relations has been brought, as the navy says, 'below the waterline' and it can't be deteriorated further," the political analyst underscored.
Petrenko assumed that the Trump administration is likely to adopt a wait-and-see attitude toward the current developments in Washington.
"The reason for this is the position in which Trump has recently found himself: any of his actions could be now interpreted to his detriment. Once he signed the new law [on sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea] they [Trump's opponents] said: 'We broke him and forced him into doing what he did not want to do, he even agreed that we restricted his rights.' If he had not signed [the bill] they would have said that 'he was bought by the Russians,' and then everything would have followed just the same pattern," Petrenko explained.
"I've begun to notice by nonverbal signs that Trump has become very nervous," Petrenko added.
"The pressure is unprecedented and [at the same time] it is structured and planned. From the very first day of his tenure as US president, Trump has been busy countering [his opponents'] attacks," the political analyst highlighted, assuming that the inner struggle in Washington leaves no time for Trump to be productive on issues that matter.
As for relations between the US and Russia, they simply couldn't be worse, the political analyst reiterated, adding that one shouldn't expect any improvements in the near future.