WASHINGTON, U.S. - The Justice Department records released on Tuesday have revealed that the special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation has cost American taxpayers at least $3.2 million so far.
The U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein cited the former FBI boss Robert Mueller’s unimpeachable integrity, as he named him the special counsel and the new face of the Russia probe.
Rosenstein was forced to name a special counsel to reassert the traditional independence of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that was tested by FBI Director James Comey’s dismissal by U.S. President Donald Trump.
Rosenstein made the decision after facing harsh criticism for doing the White House’s bidding after he drafted a memo criticizing Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe last year.
Following the appointment, Rosenstein drew bipartisan praise for his move and managed to salvage his bruised reputation following the Comey dismissal fiasco.
Rosenstein’s memo was initially used as a justification for the FBI chief’s dismissal by the White House.
Trump, however, sabotaged the White House press operation that was trying to defend him, taking matters into his own hand and even blindsiding his own vice president with his repeated shifting reasoning.
Rosenstein made the appointment since Attorney General Jeff Sessions, had, earlier this year, recused himself from any role in the inquiry.
As part of his spiralling probe, Mueller’s probe has made several expenditures.
According to the Justice Department records, these expenditures are the first public accounting of the costs associated with Mueller's far-reaching investigation.
So far, Mueller’s probe has resulted in charges against four former aides to Trump's campaign.
Last week, Mueller announced charges against Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn, the only aide charged who also served in his presidential administration.
In exchange for pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Flynn has reportedly agreed to cooperate with Mueller's team in the continuing investigation.
On Tuesday, the Justice Department stated that the costs covered a five-month period beginning on May 17, when Mueller was appointed.
Further, the department said that it accounted for the money Mueller spent until the end of the fiscal year on September 30.
The Justice Department has stated that the largest cost listed in Mueller's budget statement – $1.7 million – accounted for salary and benefits for his team of prosecutors and investigators.
The team is also said to have spent $223,643 on travel costs.
According to the report, in addition to the $3.2 million that the special counsel has spent, other Justice Department agencies are said to have spent an additional $3.5 million to support the investigation.