The investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller has thus far cost U.S. taxpayers nearly $7 million, including $1.7 million in salary and benefits.
The total sum also includes roughly $3.2 million in direct investigation expenses such as pay, supplies and rent. There was another $3.5 million in “indirect expenses” such as agents working on raids, conducting interviews and other government contractors. The special counsel’s office claimed those expenses would have been incurred “irrespective of the existence of the SCO,” while it appears to look like double-counting.
The expense report begins on May 17, the date Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mr. Mueller as special counsel, and goes through Sept. 30, the end of Fiscal Year (2017). According to the Justice Department (DOJ), the budget was approved by Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.
“The Statement reflects the Special Counsel’s spending within the approved budget,” DOJ said in a statement. “Consistent with past practice, the Statement showing actual spending is being made public today.”
The agency plans to release an update on expenses after March 31, 2018.
The new figures show more than $223,000 was spent on travel-related expenses. Despite the international focus of Mueller’s probe, only about $2,800 was spent on actual travel costs. The rest was spent on the relocation of Justice Department employees temporarily assigned to the expanding investigation, the report shows.
To date, not one of the 4 people charged as a result of the probe have been found to have “colluded” with Russia. Paul Manafort and his former business associate and protégé Rick Gates were charged with crimes that took place before years before he was hired by President Donald Trump to wrangle delegates at the Republican National Convention.
Further, the charge was related to work on a public relations campaign for the non-profit European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU), which aimed to promote the image of the then-Russian satellite regime. Mr. Manafort hired The Podesta Group, once the most powerful Democratic lobbying firm in D..C., which is listed as “Company A” in the indictments.
Under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), the law requires those who lobby on behalf of foreign agents to file disclosures with the Justice Department. Neither Mr. Manafort nor The Podesta Group were in compliance with FARA.
By filing a retroactive FARA disclosure this April, the liberal firm admitted to the lobbying activities. Mr. Mueller not only didn’t charge them but also attempted to conceal their involvement. Tony Podesta, the brother of co-founder and former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, resigned following the indictments.
Last week, former national security adviser Lt. General Michael Flynn was charged with making false statements to federal investigators.
Mr. Mueller’s team, which has conducted itself in a manner troubling to legal experts, is again under fire for unethical and bias behavior. Peter Strzok was fired for sending anti-Trump texts to another lawyer with whom he was having an affair. Now, a new email shows Andrew Weissmann praised Sally Yates for disobeying President Trump on an executive order the Supreme Court has since upheld.
Mr. Weissman is known for his outside the law tactics.