Mueller Probe Is Cheaper And More Efficient Than Past Probes

President Trump and the GOP claim that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is overlong and too expensive. The opposite is true.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs the Capitol after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian meddling in the election and possible connection to the Trump campaign, in Washington, Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs the Capitol after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian meddling in the election and possible connection to the Trump campaign, in Washington, Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Updated March 23: Mueller has submitted his report to Attorney General Barr.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation began with his appointment on May 17, 2017, though his remit included taking over ongoing FBI investigation into the Trump Campaign that started the previous Summer.

Since then, Mueller’s investigation has not only accomplished a great deal in a short period of time, it has turned a profit.

Comparing the Mueller investigation to previous independent investigations, as we did in Figure 3 (published below) of our earlier report a few things stand out.

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• The investigation is 22 months old. Of 28 previous special prosecutor and independent counsel investigations since 1973, as of December 2018, 14 were shorter than Mueller’s and 14 were longer. None of those shorter investigations resulted in any indictments. Zero.

• The Mueller investigation has indicted 34 individuals and entities, not including spin-off or related Justice Department investigations thus far, more than all but one of the previous 28 investigations since 1973; the Watergate investigation is still the gold standard. The Reagan administration had cumulatively more indicted individuals but as a result of there being seven Independent Counsel investigations and the FBI’s Operation Illwind

• Special Counsel Mueller has secured guilty verdicts or pleas from seven people. Of the fourteen investigations that were longer than Mueller’s only four resulted in more guilty pleas and convictions than Mueller has already secured.

• It’s not unusual for Democratic and Republican administrations to call investigations (when their party is in the administration) too long, partisan, witch hunt, and demand a speedy completion. What is unusual: threats, firings, counter investigations of the investigators, unrestrained Presidential attacks, attacks on the integrity of Federal agencies, and continuous attacks on those reporting on it.

• It’s beyond the scope of this comment to look at Congressional investigations… except, inescapably necessary, we note Trey Gowdy’s House Select Committee on Benghazi. Rep. Gowdy’s hearings ran from May 8, 2014 to December 12, 2016 (2 years, 7 months) with no indictments and no significant findings against Hillary Clinton – which was arguably the actual goal of the multiple investigations. Costs as of issue of a final report in December 2016 were $7.8 million. Perhaps Representative Gowdy is jealous of Director Mueller’s prowess? Of course, if the goal of these hearings was to undermine the Presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton, they were perhaps successful.

• As Rantt reported in June 2018, the Iran-Contra investigation during the Reagan administration cost $47.4 million ($102 million in today’s dollars adjusted for inflation) and the Whitewater investigation during the Clinton Administration cost $70 million ($82 million in today’s dollars). The Watergate investigation cost $6.3 million ($32.3 million in today’s dollars).

• During its first 16 months, the Mueller investigation cost “just over $25 million”. Uh oh. Expensive witch hunt! Uncovered financial crimes, however, have resulted in the US government recovering at least an estimated $48 million in cash and forfeited assets. And this doesn’t even include all of what former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort has been ordered to pay.

The calls to end the Special Counsel’s investigation and to label it as too long are contrary to history. Like any investigation that involves allegations of white-collar crime, corruption, tax evasion, or otherwise involves people of means and power the investigative and legal path is long, full of obstructions and diversions, and expensive. As the comparisons above illustrate, Mueller’s investigation appears quite efficient compared to others.

If you’d like to take a deep dive into the details of the past investigations we’ve discussed, click here or view below.

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News // Donald Trump / Robert Mueller / Russia Investigation