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Trump Special Prosecutor Probe Spent Over $9M So Far

The special prosecutor pressing a criminal case against former President Donald Trump over sensitive national security documents kept at his Florida home incurred over $9 million in costs since being handed the assignment late last year, a newly released report shows.

Special counsel Jack Smith tallied about $5.4 million in personnel, rent and other expenses on his own budget and prompted about $3.8 million in spending by other Justice Department agencies in the roughly four months after he was tapped by Attorney General Merrick Garland last November to lead the classified documents probe as well investigations related to efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, according to figures DOJ released Friday.

Those figures may dramatically underestimate Smith’s total spending since they only account for his activities through the end of March, excluding the period leading up to Trump’s unprecedented indictment in June as well as a significant escalation of the election-related probe. Smith impaneled a second grand jury in Florida shortly before issuing the charges against Trump.

The report also highlights the unusual nature of Smith’s investigations and the strong reactions they have generated. Of the $3.8 million in off-budget expenses, more than half — $1.93 million — was spending by the U.S. Marshals Service, a DOJ spokesperson said. The agency provides a security detail for the special prosecutor, who has been seen flanked by deputy marshals as he commutes to and from his Washington office.

The various probes Smith is overseeing were well underway by the time he took over and he has largely maintained the existing staffing, although he added some prosecutors in recent months. The new report doesn’t indicate how much the Justice Department spent on the related investigations in the months before Smith, a former head of DOJ’s Public Integrity Section, agreed to leave his job as a war-crimes prosecutor in Europe and return to Washington to take over the politically sensitive Trump probes.

Still, even the early snapshot of Smith’s activity suggests an intense and active investigation that has been seen in glimpses at the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., where a parade of witnesses — including former Vice President Mike Pence — have appeared before the grand jury.

By contrast, a special counsel appointed in January to look into President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents discovered in his Delaware home spent $615,000 through March and led other parts of DOJ to incur about $572,000 in expenses, another report out Friday indicates. However, special counsel Robert Hur didn’t officially assume his post until January, providing a limited window into his initial activity before the semi-annual spending reports.

A third special counsel, John Durham, spent $1.1 million in the six months preceding March 31 as he wrapped up his report on the FBI’s handling of the Trump-Russia probe that loomed over Trump’s administration for much of his term. As Durham’s probe wound down, DOJ incurred few expenses for his probe during that period, totaling only about $59,000.

Durham, who delivered his final report in May after largely unsuccessful courtroom efforts to pursue criminal cases related to the probe, spent about $9.4 million over 3½ years of the investigation on on-budget and off-budget expenses, according to DOJ figures. Durham’s probe actually began in 2019 at the instigation of Attorney General William Barr, but Barr did not formally designate it as a special counsel probe until October 2020. Durham’s expenses during that early phase of his inquiry aren’t included in the published reports.

Special counsel Robert Mueller, named in 2017 to investigate allegations of Russian influence on the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and related matters, spent about $31.45 million during the course of that probe including both direct and indirect expenditures, according to a final DOJ tally. His investigation lasted about two years, but some personnel continued winding down the office for an additional year.