Special counsel Robert Mueller has spent $3.2 million on his four-and-a-half-month investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, according to an Justice Department expense report filed Tuesday.
The DOJ has spent $6.7 million total on the Russia probe in that time, Politico reports. The other $3.5 million was incurred by pre-existing Russia investigations and would have been spent whether Mueller was appointed or not.
Both Republicans and Democrats were bracing for the report. Some members of the GOP have argued that the investigation is operating with a blank check and should be defunded. Democrats were awaiting Republican objections to the amount, however large or small it might be.
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An attempt by Rep. Steve King (R-FL) to stop funding the inquiry after six months failed last summer. Former presidential adviser Steve Bannon reportedly encouraged President Trump to defund the probe, but the White House said it wouldn't do that.
On Tuesday, Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) defended the tab to Politico, saying that $3.2 million “is entirely reasonable given the results we’ve already seen.” She noted that Mueller has already indicted two former senior Trump campaign aides, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, and obtained guilty pleas from former national security adviser Michael Flynn and ex-campaign adviser George Papadopoulos. “I continue to strongly support Bob Mueller’s investigation and believe he should receive all the resources he needs to follow the facts and the law where they lead,” Feinstein said.
Mueller’s expenditures include $1.7 million for salaries and benefits, though $1.2 million of that went to previous DOJ employees. New hires cost $500,696 between Mueller’s appointment in mid-May and the end of September. Mueller also spent $733,969 on office equipment, which will remain Justice Department property; $223,643 for travel; and $157,339 for various contractual services, including $111,245 for information technology, $24,456 for transcription and $17,217 for building services.
The special counsel's budget is drawn from a permanent Treasury Department account that is not part of the Congressional appropriations process. DOJ rules state that Mueller “shall be provided all appropriate resources” for his investigation, but his expenses are to be audited by DOJ’s Justice Management Division every six months.