What did we spend and what did we learn from the Mueller Investigation?

My Facebook friends are talking about the Mueller Investigation recently wrapping up (Wikipedia page on Special Counsel investigation (2017-2019)). Samples:

We don’t need investigative journalism or the Mueller report to implicate Trump. The evidence is already out in the open.

If you are wondering why Muller’s office issued no more indictments before releasing their report and thinking this lack of indictments somehow clears Trump and family read this thoughtful analysis of what may actually be Muller’s strategy. [link to a speculative article]

James Comey weighs in, leaving out an obvious, galling point. There is already more than enough evidence right now to indict and convict “Individual 1.” No doubt Mueller is surveying a Kanchenchunga of offenses. Mr. Trump’s top goons are already doing time in jail. It is a grotesque travesty of justice that the head of the operation — the unindicted coconspirator — instead gets to pretend to be president. With his well-cooked books, there is little question that Mr. Trump would be in jail and should be jail, right now, were it not for an idiotic Department of Justice policy that shields the president. The situation is so bad that many regard Mr. Trump’s clinging to office as the only way he can stave off jail time. He really has no exit path, other than trading his wardrobe for an orange jumpsuit. Didn’t think it through.

My favorite:

Can’t wait to wrap my eyes around the Mueller report–but I haven’t been doing much heavy reading lately. Would any of my comic artist buddies on my friends list consider adapting it to a graphic novel?

Is there good data on what this two-year investigation cost taxpayers? In addition to the direct expenditures, I think the cost in lost productivity from Americans posting about it on Facebook has to be many $billions.

(Back of the envelope: 150 million adult Americans who care about politics. Average of 1 hour spent talking or listening on this subject. Median wage $20/hour. Total: $3 billion.)

Wikipedia describes the purpose of the investigation:

counterintelligence investigation of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. According to its authorizing document, which was signed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on May 17, 2017, the investigation included any possible links or coordination between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government as well as “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

The page says that they indicted a handful of Russians living in Russia for alleged crimes related to the above (falsely claiming that some young Democrats wanted to raise taxes on the successful, expand central planning of the economy (e.g., through higher minimum wages and other constraints on employer-employee relationships), make welfare programs more generous, and boycott the Jews of Israel?). That’s like Abraham Lincoln freeing all of the slaves… who lived in the parts of North America that he did not control.

What about people living in the U.S. that could actually be prosecuted, as a practical matter? How many of those were indicted for colluding with Russia?

If we can get these two numbers we can divide to get the cost per indictee!

17 thoughts on “What did we spend and what did we learn from the Mueller Investigation?

  1. You picked the right metric, Phil. I believe the number of indicted Americans who were being paid by Putin to help the Republican Party is zero.

  2. Costs: The Wall Street Journal ran a video feature two days ago about the Mueller investigation “by the numbers” and estimated the cost on the government side, taxpayer-borne, at approximately $1.4 million per month since Mueller got started, including everyone at the Justice Department, or about $25 million dollars. They also say that Manafort’s forfeiture of basically everything he owns will pay for the whole thing!

    Who knows if they’re right, but it sounds like an OK ballpark figure. I can’t imagine it being 5x that unless there’s a lot we don’t know, and I would be super-surprised if it was less than $25M.

    WSJ also estimates the Starr/Clinton investigation cost even more over its 4.5 years of thrills and spills, approximately $40 million. If those are unadjusted dollars and we choose $1.00 in 1996 (halfway through) ~= $1.64 in 2019, that’s almost $66 million in today’s money.

    One thing’s for sure: that video didn’t cost much to make. Normally I like Jason Bellini but that drab grey background is awful and he talks too much with his hands here:

    https://www.wsj.com/video/mueller-investigation-674-days-and-other-numbers-to-remember/FFA14395-4195-4324-9080-DC3F70A34A16.html

    You’re probably way, way low at $3 billion, though, when it comes to the rest of the world’s unaccountable costs. I would guess those to be at least an order of magnitude greater.

  3. The cost of the (pointless) investigation is not the issue — whatever the millions spent it will be tacked on to the 22 trillion national debt and is too minimal to even be considered a rounding error. The national debt will never be repaid and the creditors are Chinese so who cares? The real issue is that the Dems and their media hatchet men managed to hobble the Trump presidency for several years with bogus charges and thereby thwart the will of the electorate. Hats off to the Dems on this one.

  4. What we have found is that Putin managed to capture Muller and to make him his Manchurian candidate.

    This is definite, since Muller failed to report the collusion while every single Democrat is the Congress, every media commentator, and every analyst in all 14 intelligence agencies (remember those?) know the truth.

    And what did this cost us? Our liberty, let alone 2 trillion dollars that Kushner wired to Putin through the Deutsche Bank. We need to find that money ASAP and return it to is rightful owner: Hillary for America.

    It used to be the Jews, but now it’s getting more complicated–and expensive too. Sarcasm off.

  5. Our government spending wise, be it $25M or $100M, is not even a drop in the bucket to be noticeable given how much we spend an hour.

    The “150 million adult Americans .. this subject. Median wage $20/hour. Total: $3 billion” is also hardly noticeable because Americans waste far more hours a day stuck in traffic be it in the subway or highway (Phil just posted about it not too long ago).

    So $$ wise, there was hardly any impact to Americans — expect if you look at it from the angle of how much the Russian government spent on FB and fake-news to “influenced” the 2016 election — they spent far less than $1M. That to me this is the amazing part given that the Russian used our own technology against us to do so.

    Now any American who believes that the Russian government have had in fact “influenced” the 2016 election, than that American have no one else but self to blame because it means that American is dump enough to believe what they read on FB, fake-news or even real-news — without being able to make self analyses or judgement.

    • I am not that dump. I do not believe any of the nonsense that you posted on social media above.

  6. (Back of the envelope: 150 million adult Americans who care about politics. Average of 1 hour spent talking or listening on this subject. Median wage $20/hour. Total: $3 billion.)
    That’s a PLUS not a minus. It’s like totaling all the time spent by airplane aficionados poring over the latest Pilatus rumors. It’s entertainment. We should charge $100 for each digitally signed copy of the report, and charge the same for each leaked copy traced back to a signature. That would pay for the the investigation tenfold.

    • That’s a great idea! We should also offer a special “Putin’s discount” of $25 to every registered Democrat.

  7. To folks who are pointed out that the Mueller investigation resulted with indictment, jail time, et. al., yes you have a point. But if you investigate any politician who runs for an office, you will find some sort of indictment against them — and it will cost far less than the $25M to investigate all members of the Senates and Congress of any party resulting with far more indictment.

    Here is a good read on the Mueller investigation [1].

    [1] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-47698811

    • +1 Weinstein and some people in recent college admissions fraud case – connected to prior Obama administration and/or Clintons. Manafort too did what he was convicted for long time before he joined Trump campaign. Other serious transgressions that are not popular akin to manafort’s case and worse are not even being looked into.

    • So is your argument that politics should be a “free fire” zone, where there is no such thing as crime?

      “investigate any politician who runs for an office, you will find some sort of indictment against them” – H.Clinton was investigated quite thoroughly, with no indictments forthcoming.

    • It helped that Obama decided not to prosecute H. Clinton against a DOJ lawyer recommendations, as told by Sztrok and Page. And 20% of US Uranium sale to Putin connected businesses and Clinton “foundation” that somehow not receiving much $$$ any longer were not touched at all

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