Mueller details $6.7M spent in early months of probe

WASHINGTON — The special counsel investigation into possible coordination between President Trump’s campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election has cost more than $6.7 million so far, according to a financial report released Tuesday.

 

The release of the report by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office comes as the investigation appears to be gaining steam: Prosecutors have gained a key cooperator in their investigation and revealed they are keenly focused on the actions of the president and his inner circle.

Of the overall price tag, only about $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 says the money would have been spent on ongoing probes anyway, even if Mueller had not been appointed.

Mueller incorporated several active investigations within the Justice Department, including those of Trump campaign contacts with Russia, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s business activities and of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The details of the expenditures related to Mueller’s investigation were laid out in a report released publicly by the special counsel’s office. 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 majority of the travel costs stemmed from the relocation of Justice Department employees temporarily assigned to the expanding investigation.

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.

A 1999 General Accounting Office report, for example, showed then-independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s office spent $6.2 million in the last six months of 1998, though it’s unclear if the amount included both direct expenditures by the special counsel and supporting agency costs.

In its report, Mueller’s team notes it draws its funding from a revolving “permanent, indefinite” appropriation for independent counsels provided by Congress, as well as from non-reimbursed Justice Department agency expenditures and from intelligence agency appropriations.

In a statement, the special counsel’s office said it will release a similar expenditure report after March 31, 2018.

 

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