The Justice Department is preparing to release the first expense report from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election next week.
The report, which will be made public and sent to Congress, will provide the first window into the federal resources being used to investigate not only Russian meddling but also any attempts by President Trump's campaign to coordinate with Moscow to swing the election — as well as possible obstruction of justice.
So far, Mueller has hired 17 prosecutors in the sprawling probe, which has led to two indictments and a guilty plea deal.
Mueller is required to produce a public expense report every six months, giving critics repeated opportunities to bludgeon the special counsel with his budget. Trump has tweeted about the “costly” investigation, and some conservatives have argued that it is a waste of taxpayer dollars.
But Congress has few avenues to cut off Mueller’s funding. His budget is not part of the annual Justice Department funding package that Congress approves, but instead comes from a permanent Treasury Department account. And the Justice regulations stipulate that he must be provided “all appropriate resources” to conduct this investigation.
The only way Congress could cut off Mueller’s cash flow would likely be passing a stand-alone bill or attaching a rider to a spending bill blocking money for the investigation.
But there appears to be little appetite amongst Republican leadership to take that step.
Rep. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisMore voters would pick Trump over Biden if election were held today: poll 17 Democratic state AGs back challenge to Florida voting limits The Memo: Media obsess over Trump's past as he eyes comeback MORE (R-Fla.) in August tried to attach an amendment to a House spending package that would have put a six-month limit on Mueller’s investigation and blocked him from investigating conduct that occurred prior to March 2015. House leadership did not allow the amendment to come to the floor for a vote.
“I don’t want to deny the Justice Department or the special counsel the resources they need. Now, I don’t want to see them just go hog wild and waste money either, but I don’t want to try to do anything to hurt [them],” he said.