Nearly two years ago, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate possible coordination efforts between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.
On March 22, Mueller delivered his report to Attorney General William Barr, who is responsible for deciding how much of that report is made available to Congress. Over the course of his probe, Mueller brought 199 charges against 34 people and three companies, including six of Trump’s former advisers and associates. Barr wrote in a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Judiciary committees that he “may be in a position to advise you of the special counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend.”
Though we don’t know what the report’s conclusions are yet, we do know about how much it cost to produce.
Between May 17, 2017 — the day Mueller was appointed Special Counsel — through Sept. 30, 2018, his office spent $12,287,852. This includes $7.3 million on salaries and benefits, $1.3 million on travel and transportation, and $2.2 million on rent and utilities. In the most recent of the three expense reports filed, the Special Counsel’s office also says it spent $15,618 on printing and copying needs.
Not included in these figures are “component expenses” incurred by the Department of Justice at large. These additional costs totaled $12,928,000, though the DOJ says it was not legally required to report them, and that they are approximate to what the DOJ would have spent elsewhere if the Special Counsel’s Office didn’t exist.
Mueller’s office has not yet filed an expense report for the last six months of his investigation, but including the DOJ’s contributions, the total reported cost so far is $25.2 million.
Given that the last three expense reports have covered about six-month timespans, and the last report was approximately six months ago, it is likely that the office will file its fourth and final one soon. The first three reports totaled approximately $6.8 million, $10 million and $8.5 million, respectively. So the last one, if comparable to the others, would make the final dollar amount of Mueller’s probe between $32 million and $35 million.
Though that is a lot of money, the investigation may have actually paid for itself by uncovering tax evasion and fraud.
Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was sentenced for obstruction of justice and conspiracy in September. Manafort, as part of his plea deal, agreed to forfeit assets valued around $42 million, including about $22 million in real estate property, according to CNBC, though a Justice Department official told NBC News that the money would not go directly to funding the investigation.
Some Republicans have been critical of the costs of Mueller’s investigation.
“The least we can do is start looking at all the ways he has absolutely blown taxpayer dollars,” Rep. Louie Gohmert told Fox News in June. According to Gohmert, Mueller “has wasted money right and left.”
But the cost of Mueller’s investigation is much lower than previous ones. The investigation into President Bill Clinton from 1994 to 2002 cost approximately $69 million, and the investigation into Iran-Contra cost approximately $47 million, not adjusted for inflation, according to the Washington Post.