The investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election is in full swing, and the special investigator’s first bill has come in for taxpayers.
For an investigation that has been called a “witch hunt” by President Donald Trump, the bill being shoved onto taxpayers is enormous — and has critics up in arms.
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Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office says more than $6.7 million of taxpayer money has already been spent as part of his investigation into Russian election interference.
Of that price tag, a staggering $3.2 million was spent directly by the special counsel’s office. An additional $3.5 million was paid out by the Justice Department to support the investigation, though the special counsel’s office claims that money would have been spent anyway.
That’s $6.7 million in YOUR tax money that are now lining the pockets of ‘special investigators’ for hotel rooms, plane flights around the country, dinners out, and new laptops. Of that total, an incredible $1.7 million has been spent on salaries in just five over months.
That means Mueller and company are blowing through more than $16 million annually.
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Mueller incorporated several active investigations within the Justice Department, including those of disgraced former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s business activities and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, both of whom the president fired.
The details of the expenditures related to Mueller’s investigation were laid out in a report that was required to be released to the public. The report covers from May 17, the date of Mueller’s appointment, through Sept. 30, the end of the federal fiscal year.
According to Mueller’s report, the special counsel’s office spent about $1.7 million for salaries and benefits and more than $223,000 for travel-related expenses.
The office also spent nearly $734,000 on equipment and about $363,000 on rent, communications and utilities.
Previous special counsel investigations, including probes of former President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s, have also spent millions over a few months’ time.
But they don’t compare to the amount of cash Mueller is blowing through.
A 1999 General Accounting Office report, for example, showed that independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s office spent millions in the last six months of 1998… but spent approximately 25% less per month than Mueller’s pace.
The entire four-and-a-half year investigations headed by Starr and his successor, Robert Ray, cost $52 million in taxpayer funds in total as they probed Clinton and then-first lady Hillary Clinton.
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At Mueller’s current pace, he would spend that in just three years and a few months.
In a statement, the special counsel’s office said it will release a similar expenditure report after March 31, 2018.
One must wonder how many of the special counsel’s “meetings” will involve steak dinners and French wine between then and now?
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The Associated Press contributed to this article