Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been expanding his investigation into various areas to determine the extent of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
According to an article by Judicial Watch, the watchdog organization has tried to determine how much this investigation is costing, but their efforts have been blocked. So, they’ve filed a lawsuit with the Department of Justice to learn just how much this investigation is costing taxpayers.
Bloomberg reports that in July, Mr. Mueller expanded the scope of the investigation to include President Trump’s business dealings in Russia or with Russians to identify any connections that could be considered collusion.
Specifically, his team began looking into apartments owned by President Trump that were purchased by Russians. They also had interest in President Trump’s involvement in a SoHo development with Russian collaboration, President Trump overseeing the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and a Florida mansion sold to a Russian oligarch in 2008.
Democrats defended the expansion, saying it was under the Justice Department’s original mandate for Mr. Mueller to look into “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign,” and “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation,”
When so broadly interpreted, this order allows Mr. Mueller and his team to investigate anything regardless of how relevant or meaningful, and in theory allowing the investigation to continue indefinitely.
Adding to concerns over cost, Mr. Mueller submitted a proposed budget to the Justice Department that has never been publicly released. Rather than make the budget public information, lawmakers instead declared they would only release reports of the expenses every six months. They wanted the investigation to go on for at least six months before revealing just how much it cost.
Judicial Watch was understandably concerned and filed a Freedom of Information Act in July with the Department of Justice to learn the true cost to taxpayers. They were promptly ignored, never receiving a response from the Justice Department.
Now Judicial Watch has filed a lawsuit, demanding to know how much the investigation is costing and why those overseeing the budget are withholding the information from the public.
They specifically want three things: a copy of the budget that Mr. Mueller drafted, all guidance materials and orders directing the investigation, and all documentation showing oversight of Mr. Mueller and his team.
President of Judicial Watch, Tom Fitton, believes the Justice Department and other officials are intentionally hiding the information because they’re worried about how people would react to the cost.
He stated, “The Mueller special counsel investigation is growing with seemingly little concern about costs to the taxpayer. Is the Justice Department hiding basic budget information about the Mueller special counsel operation because taxpayers and Congress would be outraged by the costs? Mr. Mueller is not above the law and he shouldn’t be able to keep his budget secret. No one else in DC seems to be providing oversight of the Mueller juggernaut, so once again it is up to the citizens group Judicial Watch to go to court and demand accountability.”
Do you think this will spell trouble for Mueller?