- Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian agents was released to the public on April 18.
- Mueller’s investigation has cost millions of dollars.
- But previous government investigations have been far costlier.
In May 2017, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III was appointed to launch a probe into charges of collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian contacts. Nearly two years later, Mueller formally announced the investigation’s closing on March 22. The results: No collusion with Russia. Mueller’s report was released to the public on April 18.
Throughout the investigation, Trump frequently complained about the exorbitant cost of the proceedings. Now that it’s finally over, find out what the investigation has unearthed and the cost of the administration’s actions.
How Much Mueller’s Investigation Has Cost: More than $25M
After 16 months of investigation, the cost had ballooned to $25 million, CNBC reported. Based on those figures, that works out to approximately $1.5 million spent per month. And that’s just working from September 2018, the 16-month mark. The cost has very likely gone up since then. If the $1.5 million figure remains static, taxpayers have paid another $7.5 million between October 2018 and February 2019.
In Mueller’s latest filing, released in September 2018, he reported “spending nearly $3 million on compensation, $580,000 on travel and transportation, $1 million on rent and related expenses, and $300,000 on contractual services, primarily related to IT,” according to CNBC.
The good news is, for this multimillion-dollar price tag, Mueller’s investigation has produced real results. Dozens of people, and three companies, have been charged, resulting in five people pleading guilty to various charges. These include Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates and former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos. Another top official in Trump’s presidential campaign, Roger Stone, was recently indicted for charges related to hacked emails of Hillary Clinton — unrelated, but not dissimilar to the cover-ups and deceit found in Mueller’s investigation.
The Trump administration’s main defense tactic against the investigation was to call out the supposedly exorbitant cost of the investigation. Trump took on the issue of costs through a message on Twitter:
….At what point does this soon to be $20,000,000 Witch Hunt, composed of 13 Angry and Heavily Conflicted Democrats and two people who have worked for Obama for 8 years, STOP! They have found no Collussion with Russia, No Obstruction, but they aren’t looking at the corruption…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2018
However, there are several issues with this defense.
First off, with Paul Manafort pleading guilty back in September 2018, Trump’s former campaign manager agreed to hand over real estate and cash estimated to be worth between $42 million and $46 million, well over three times the $16.7 million cost of the investigation. Although supporters of the investigation think these seized assets should be used to pay for the investigation, the Justice Department denied this would happen. Instead, the typical action is for the federal government to auction off the forfeited items, according to CNBC.
And a second issue with the Trump administration’s argument is that past special counsel investigations — including those instigated by Republicans against Democrats — have been much more expensive.
How Much Past Government Investigations Have Cost
Back in the 1980s under President Ronald Reagan, the U.S. became embroiled in one of the most infamous international fiascos in modern history: the Iran-Contra Affair. In a complex deal, Americans were selling arms to Iranians both in hopes of improving relations and to secure the release of hostages held by Iranian terrorists in Lebanon. The profits from these arms sales were then diverted to the Nicaraguan Contras, an anti-communist guerrilla force that the U.S. supported.
Long story short, the whole episode blew up in the administration’s face as more information was leaked and published. Soon, a special prosecutor, Lawrence E. Walsh, was appointed to investigate the Reagan administration and its officials for its involvement, running up $47.4 million in costs over the course of eight years. Similarly, during the 1990s, former independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr investigated President Bill Clinton and his administration on various matters, coming in with a final price tag of more than $52 million, and that’s not including five additional independent counsels that have tacked on another $100 million in investigation costs.
So, in reality, despite Trump’s complaints on Twitter, Mueller’s investigation is cheap, by comparison, and barely a burden on American taxpayers.
Find out the net worths of former Trump staff members.
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