President Trump has periodically complained about the cost of Mueller’s probe to taxpayers. In a tweet late last week that seemed to exaggerate the publicly known price tag, the president claimed the investigation came with “a cost of over $30,000,000,” and had found “NO COLLUSION!”
Analysts say that Mueller’s budget is not out of line with previous independent counsels. Former independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr, for example, spent more than $52 million investigating President Bill Clinton, and the five independent counsels appointed to look into various Clinton-related matters during the 1990s spent more than $100 million.
Mueller’s work, too, has led to federal authorities being able to seize several multimillion-dollar properties belonging to Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman.
Mueller has brought charges against 33 people in his probe, which began in May 2017. He has turned several people who were once Trump’s closest advisers — including former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen — into witnesses helping his case. He also has charged more than two dozen Russians with hacking and social media campaigns meant to influence the 2016 election.
Still, Mueller has not yet answered the core question of his investigation: whether the Russian influence operations were coordinated with the Trump campaign.
The latest expenditure report, for the April through September time period, is the third Mueller has filed. He reported spending the most money, $2.88 million, on personnel, along with about $942,000 on rent, communications and utilities, and $580,000 on travel and transportation. The $8.4 million total is slightly less than the roughly $10 million in expenditures he had tallied in the previous six months.
The money that Mueller spent directly comes from an indefinite appropriation for independent counsels, which the Justice Department determined could be used to fund Mueller’s work.