Political News

Justice Department is expected to release Mueller expenses next week

Posted November 30, 2017 5:10 p.m. EST

— The Justice Department is expected next week to release a report providing the first public details on the cost of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US elections.

DOJ is preparing to release the first expense report connected to Mueller's probe next week, according to Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores. The report will be made public and will also be provided to Congress, she said.

While the report is expected to show only toplines of Mueller's costs and not get into great detail, it will be the first glimpse of the budget he is using for the investigation into potential collusion between Trump associates and Russian officials, as well as possible obstruction of justice and financial crimes. The plan is to release information every six months.

So far, Mueller has hired 17 prosecutors for his probe, which has led to the indictments of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates, as well as the guilty plea of former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos for lying to the FBI.

The expense report will provide an opportunity for Republicans who are critical of Mueller's probe -- including President Donald Trump -- to scrutinize his spending and the scope of his investigation.

Earlier this month, three House Republicans introduced a resolution urging Mueller to resign, accusing him of having conflicts of interest in the investigation. A group of House Republicans also went to the floor to call for Mueller to resign or be fired.

"He has broadened the scope of his investigation far beyond his charge to examine Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election," said Rep. Andy Biggs, an Arizona Republican who co-sponsored the Mueller resolution. "In the process, he is helping to destroy the integrity, perception and credibility of the American justice system."

Trump has taken aim on Twitter at the "costly" Russia investigations, which he has decried as a hoax and a witch hunt.

But the release of the special counsel's finances is unlikely to lead to a successful effort in Congress to curb Mueller's budget. That's because his funding is not part of the annual funding that Congress approves for the Justice Department. It comes instead from a separate revolving Treasury Department account for "permanent, indefinite appropriations" that's set up for things like special investigations.

A congressional appropriations aide told CNN last month that the Justice Department is given financial discretion to appropriate funds for the special counsel probe, although the congressional oversight committees do receive "accounting material related to this activity."

Federal law states that the special counsel "shall be provided all appropriate resources by the Department of Justice." The special counsel had to develop a proposed budget within 60 days with the Justice Department, and must provide a budget request for the upcoming year 90 days before the beginning of each fiscal year.