A new government report released late Thursday shows the Justice Department has spent more than $17 million on its investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election since the appointment one year ago of special counsel Robert Mueller.
More than $10 million was spent during the latest reporting period, October to March. Mueller’s office, according to the report, directly spent $4.5 million during the the six-month period, including $874,069 for salaries and benefits and $1.9 million for Justice officials loaned to the investigation.
President Trump tweeted earlier this month the special counsel probe was a “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!”
Republican leaders critical of the investigation have argued that no evidence of collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign has been presented. Guilty pleas, unrelated to “collusion,” have been secured from Trump foreign policy aide George Papadopoulos, onetime national security adviser Michael Flynn, deputy campaign manager Rick Gates and others. Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has pleaded not guilty to charges unrelated to the campaign.
In a statement, Mueller’s office said its spending was “within the approved budget,” Politico reported.
Russia investigation spending also includes nearly $5.5 million for Justice Department work that supports Mueller’s team and $6.7 million spent by Mueller during the investigation’s first four-and-a-half months, beginning in May 2017.
Politico said the total tab for 21 completed independent counsel and special counsel investigations dating back to the Carter administration was $231 million, or $339 million when adjusted for inflation.
During the Clinton administration, there were six separate independent counsel investigations, totaling more than $140 million. The Whitewater probe led mostly by independent counsel Kenneth Starr ran up a bill of $73 million, more than $107 million when adjusted for inflation.
President Reagan faced eight different investigations costing a total of more than $84 million, or $142 million when adjusted for inflation, Politico said.