Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe continued to intensify with charges released against former Trump-whisperer Michael Flynn over the weekend and, on Tuesday, the former FBI Director let us know just how much his investigation is costing the American taxpayer.
The Department of Justice published an expenditure statement that outlines the costs from May 17, 2017 to September 30, 2017. In those months, the costs of the probe totaled just over $3.2 million — here’s the breakdown of where the money went, according to the filling:
- Personnel Compensation and Benefits – $1,709,597
- Travel and Transportation of Persons – $223,643
- Transportation of Things – $156
- Rent, Communications, and Utilities – $362,550
- Contractual Services – $157,339
- Supplies and Materials – $26,442
- Acquisition of Equipment – $733,969
The report also includes a brief series of footnotes stating that the money for Mueller’s probe comes from the DOJ’s funding and that the department sets aside money for “the permanent, indefinite appropriation for independent counsels.”
The heftiest price tag was the salaries of the employees at $1.7 million. Of that money, $1.2 million was paid to Department of Justice employees who were brought on board Mueller’s probe and $500,696 was paid to outside employees like Mueller and his partner James Quarles, who was an assistant prosecutor in the Watergate investigation that brought down Nixon.
As the probe gains steam, there’s no doubt that the ticket on Mueller’s men continues to increase — the DOJ’s filing only shows the expenses until September 30, when the probe was still in a relatively early stage. Remember, they didn’t even charge Paul Manafort until the end of October. It’s also possible that since these filings, more agents have been brought on with the investigation. Witnesses who have had the displeasure of finding themselves before Mueller’s men told The Washington Post that teams of agents rotate through for interviews and each team seems to be focusing on a different target. One cell of agents may be concentrating on possible crimes committed by Michael Flynn while another is only concerned with the activities of another Trump associate like Jared Kushner or Reince Priebus.
Mueller has come under scrutiny in the last week when we learned that one of his top men was pulled from the probe after DOJ investigators found evidence that he sent partisan text messages. That investigator, Peter Strzok, was removed over the summer and critics of Mueller’s probe see his former role in the investigation as evidence that Mueller is leading an anti-Trump “witch hunt.” Reports about Strzok even prompted a tweet from the president.
Mueller’s investigation is probably going to continue evolving for a long time and while $3.2 million seems like a whole lot of dough, it’s barely a ripple in the DOJ’s coffer — the 2018 government funding bill sets aside $29 billion for the department and $8.8 billion for the FBI alone.
The last independent probe that gripped the American consciousness was special counsel Ken Starr’s investigation into Bill Clinton. In the final six months of his investigation, Starr racked up $6.2 million in dues and his total investigation cost about $40 million, per a 1999 CNN report. But even Starr doesn’t have the record, investigator Lawrenche Walsh spent $47.4 million while investigating the Iran-contra affair in Reagan.