- With Michael Cohen’s testimony against Trump, impeachment speculation is on the rise.
- Impeachment work on President Bill Clinton’s case in 1998 cost $1.2 million.
- With inflation, the cost of presidential impeachment today could be close to $2 million or more.
Michael Cohen, former personal attorney to President Donald Trump, publicly testified before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Feb. 27. His testimony covered some of the most controversial and complex allegations linked to the president, including Trump’s business deals and hush-money payments.
Attitudes toward the hearing in the lead-up split sharply along party lines. Virginia Democrat and chairman of the Oversight subcommittee Gerald Connolly was adamant about Cohen having a story to tell. Meanwhile, Republican Jim Jordan, a representative of Ohio and the Oversight subcommittee’s main Republican on the panel, didn’t believe anything would be gained from the testimony. According to Jordan, Democrats were using Cohen’s testimony to further their political aims, namely the impeachment of Trump.
It’s a difficult feat to impeach a president, and one testimony from a convicted felon is unlikely to further such a goal. Another factor to consider about impeachment is its cost. Find out how much it would potentially cost the U.S. to impeach the president.
The Cost of a Presidential Impeachment
In September 2018, Trump tweeted that impeaching him would cause the country to collapse:
That projected outcome is unlikely, but a Trump impeachment would come at some cost.
In 1999, The New York Times reported that five months of impeachment work on former President Bill Clinton’s case cost $1.2 million, according to records from the House Judiciary Committee. Adjusted for the cost of inflation, $1.2 million in 1999 would be equal to about $1.8 million in 2018 dollars, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s consumer price index inflation calculator.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the individual legal costs connected to the Clinton case detailed by the Times:
- Payments to Chief Republican Investigator David Schippers: as much as $20,000 per month
- Payments to Democratic counsel Abbe Lowell: as much as $18,000 per month
In 2018 dollars, those costs would be:
- Chief investigator’s monthly salary: $30,179.05
- Head counsel to represent the president: $27,161.15
Theoretically, in the exact same circumstances today — that is, five months of congressional proceedings — it would cost around $100,000 more to pay the lead investigator and counsel in a presidential impeachment case than it did in 1999, when Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial concluded. Add to that an inflated cost of paying for the work of entire legal teams on both sides, and you have a considerable increase over 1999’s $1.2 million in impeachment costs.
Keep reading about the real cost of Trump’s border wall for your wallet.
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Andrew DePietro contributed to the reporting for this article.