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May 22, 2019

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Marketplace Tech

How special counsel Mueller is spending his money

Danielle Chiriguayo Mar 6, 2019
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Then-FBI Director Robert Mueller speaks during a news conference at the FBI headquarters June 25, 2008, in Washington, D.C.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Since Robert Mueller’s appointment as special counsel in May 2017, one question that keeps being asked is: How much money is being spent on his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election?

Although we do not know when Mueller’s report will be finalized and sent to Congress — or whether it will be released to the public — there is a little we do know. As rumors of the investigation ending swirl, let’s do the numbers on Mueller’s probe.

Discretionary funds used in independent investigations like Mueller’s are already appropriated for the explicit purpose of independent investigations.

The Office of the Special Counsel has released three statements of expenditure since the beginning of the investigation. It has been 21 months, or 659 days, since Mueller was appointed by then-acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Between May 2017 and last September, the office of the Special Counsel spent more than $25 million on the investigation.

But where exactly does all this money go? To all the places you’d expect: rent, personnel compensation, contractor fees and other supplies. One line item present on each statement is for “transportation of things,” which in total has cost upward of $2,280.

Ever wondered how much Mueller is being paid for investigating whether Russia interfered in the election? It’s been estimated his annual paycheck is approximately $161,900 — a salary determined by the Department of Justice‘s sliding pay scale, which is based on education and experience.

Compared to historic special investigations, namely the Kenneth Starr investigation of the Clinton administration in the ’90s and the investigation into the Reagan administration’s involvement with Iran-Contra in the late ’80s, Mueller’s investigation is, so far, one of the least costly. The Clinton investigations cost $79 million, while the Iran-Contra probe cost about $47 million.

After the Office of the Special Counsel released its third statement of expenditures, President Donald Trump tweeted about the investigation, claiming it cost more than $30 million. In a previous tweet, the president said the investigation cost more than $40 million. In other tweets, the president has called Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt” and said it would prove “no collusion.”

Despite all the spending, it’s looking like the investigation might just pay for itself. Over its course, numerous individuals have been indicted, charged and subsequently found guilty of multiple of crimes — including former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was charged with tax and bank fraud, among other financial crimes.

Part of Manafort’s plea deal included the forfeiture of assets thought to be valued at between “$42 million and $46 million.

Does that include his ostrich jacket? Sure it does. Some of Manafort’s assets seized as evidence included that $15,000 ostrich coat, a $18,500 python jacket and a $9,500 ostrich vest.

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