Mueller Probe Has Cost Some $25 Million, Justice Department Says

(Bloomberg) -- Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation cost about $25 million from the time he was appointed in May 2017 to the end of September 2018, the Justice Department said.

Mueller spent about $4.6 million from April to September of this year, according to his most recent statement of expenditures released on Friday. In addition, Justice Department agencies spent about $3.9 million during that period on tasks related to the probe, according to the document.

Mueller previously reported that Justice Department units spent $9 million from the investigation’s start in May 2017 through March 2018, compared with $7.7 million spent by his own team.

Most of the money spent by Mueller in the latest period -- about $2.9 million -- went for personnel, with the rest going to travel, office space and contracting services, the Justice Department said.

Spending by Justice Department agencies has slightly outpaced direct spending by Mueller during the reporting periods. In total, agencies have spent about $12.9 million compared to $12.3 million by Mueller’s team.

The Justice Department has budgeted $10 million for Mueller to spend in fiscal 2019, which began on Oct. 1. President Donald Trump has seized on the inquiry’s costs -- and frequently inflated them -- in tweets attacking the investigation.

Mueller is investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, whether Trump or any of his associates conspired to do so and whether Trump has acted to obstruct justice. U.S. intelligence agencies concluded Russia’s interference operation was intended to damage Democrat Hillary Clinton and help Trump win the election.

To date, Mueller has convicted Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on a variety of financial crimes. He has indicted more than two dozen Russians, including intelligence operatives, for hacking into the computers of the Democratic National Committee and leaking information damaging to Clinton.

Mueller also has secured guilty pleas or cooperation agreements from several of Trump’s associates, including his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and his former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen.

Trump has repeatedly attacked the Mueller investigation, calling it a witch hunt and alleging without providing proof that some of Mueller’s prosecutors are “angry” and politically biased. The president and some of his political allies have called for the investigation to end.

Mueller, however, appears to be on course to continue working into the new year.

Even if Mueller’s probe stretched through 2019, the timeline wouldn’t be unprecedented. Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr spent four years investigating President Bill Clinton before releasing his report on the Monica Lewinsky affair, which spun out of a probe into an Arkansas land deal known as Whitewater.

It took almost two years for Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald to indict Scooter Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, for lying to investigators and obstruction of justice in October 2005 in the investigation into the public outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.