- Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian election interference has so far cost nearly $17 million.
- Mueller’s investigation has resulted in at least five people pleading guilty to charges.
- Previous government investigations have been far costlier.
A little over two years since President Donald Trump was elected, questions surrounding the circumstances of his victory in the 2016 election remain unanswered. Russian interference in the election, once merely just rumors, has metastasized over two years into a complex web of collusion, corruption and lies. Last year, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III was appointed to launch a probe into these charges, and what the investigation has turned up is alarming, to say the least.
With a number of people coming in and out of the hot seat this last year, find out what else Mueller’s investigation has unearthed and the cost of the administration’s actions.
How Much Mueller’s Investigation Has Cost
Over the course of about 10 ½ months of work, Mueller’s investigation price tag comes in at roughly $16.7 million, according to the Washington Post. In the first 4 ½ months, Mueller reported the investigation cost $6.7 million. Then, from the beginning of October 2017 through the end of March 2018, the budget grew by approximately $10 million, to where it stands today.
The good news is, for this multimillion-dollar price tag, Mueller’s investigation has produced real results. At least 19 people and three companies have been charged, and five people have pleaded guilty to various charges, including former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates and former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos.
The Trump administration’s main defense tactic against this investigation has been calling 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
There are several issues with this defense. First off, with Paul Manafort pleading guilty, 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.
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.
Click through to find out the net worths of former Trump staff members.
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