Trump-Russia probe cost US taxpayers $4.5m in six months

The special counsel was created last year after the president fired former FBI Director James Comey

Clark Mindock
New York
Friday 01 June 2018 00:58 BST
Mr Mueller became special counsel last year after Mr Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey
Mr Mueller became special counsel last year after Mr Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election has spent $4.5 million between October and March of this year, the Justice Department has announced.

The spending was supplemented by another $5.476 spent by the Justice Department on activities to support the investigation, according to a report from the department.

That over $10m price tag for the the six months fuelled what has been described as an ever widening investigation, which includes an inquiry into potential ties between President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia.

That official figure is much less than the amount that Mr Trump, who has frequently criticised the probe, has presented to the American people through his Twitter account.

The president called the probe a “$20,000,000 Witch Hunt” earlier this month, though he had estimated the costs to be closer to $10m just days before then.

The Justice Department report notes that the largest expenditure of the inquiry went to the $2.738m that was spent on salaries and benefits for the employees of the investigation.

In addition to those costs, the investigation spent $886,000 on rent, communications, and utilities. It spent another $264,000 on “contractual services”, which Reuters reports mostly involved information technology services.

If past is any indicator, special counsel investigations that include presidential administrations tend to rack up pretty large bills.

During the last such inquiry, the special counsel led by Kenneth Starr that lasted from 1994 until 1999 spent $52m during the four-and-a-half years the investigation was active.

Mr Trump has frequently called the investigation a witch hunt in his effort to undermine Mr Mueller’s task.

The investigation has already yielded several indictments against individuals in the Trump campaign orbit, though the charges have generally related to lying to federal officials or to unrelated financial issues.

It is unclear if the Mueller investigation will or has found proof of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and precedent and protocol makes it unlikely that charges would be filed by the special counsel against Mr Trump during his presidency.

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