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Mueller departs Capitol Hill on June 21 following a closed door meeting. Photo: Andrew Harnik / AP

As soon as Monday, the Mueller investigation begins a new phase that moves it from background music in national politics to center stage, with massive stakes for President Trump and both parties.

What's new: "A federal grand jury in Washington [yesterday] approved the first charges in the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller," CNN scoops. "The charges are still sealed under orders from a federal judge. Plans were prepared Friday for anyone charged to be taken into custody as soon as Monday."

Why it matters, from MSNBC's Ari Melber: "[W]e're moving away from a political fight, where everyone can see it the way they want, and into ... a legal process — where there are rules of evidence, facts are established. ... Bob Mueller is known to be a pretty careful prosecutor."

Be smart: Matt Miller — former Obama Justice Department official, and close Mueller watcher, emails me: "I think it means this will be a rolling investigation. Rather than conduct his entire investigation and then wrap things up with indictments and possibly a report at the end, he is doing it in stages, the way the Justice Department might attack a drug cartel or a mafia family."

  • Miller adds that this "is a watershed moment for the politics surrounding the investigation. In less than six months on the job, Mueller has already returned indictments.
  • "This isn't a fishing expedition or a witch hunt — it's an investigation that's already born fruit with a grand jury of regular Americans finding probable cause that a crime was committed."
Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
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Go deeper

In photos: D.C. and U.S. states on alert for pre-inauguration violence

National Guard troops stand behind security fencing with the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building behind them, on Jan. 16. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Security has been stepped up in Washington, D.C., and state capitols across the U.S. as authorities brace for potential violence this weekend.

Driving the news: Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by some supporters of President Trump, the FBI has said there could be armed protests in D.C. and in all 50 state capitols in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Axios subject-matter experts brief you on the incoming administration's plans and team.

Rep. Lou Correa tests positive for COVID-19

Lou Correa. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) announced on Saturday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Correa is the latest Democratic lawmaker to share his positive test results after last week's deadly Capitol riot. Correa did not shelter in the designated safe zone with his congressional colleagues during the siege, per a spokesperson, instead staying outside to help Capitol Police.