In the early months of 2019, as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation headed to a close, congressional Republicans were just as interested in how much it cost to fund his probe as they were in what it actually found.
By March, Republicans on Capitol Hill were decrying how long the investigation had dragged on, frequently pointing out the amount of taxpayer dollars—reportedly some $25 million—that went toward funding it. They made clear they expected the special counsel to provide a comprehensive accounting of how much he spent and why—and also made clear that getting those answers would be a priority for the GOP.
In a statement on March 22, the day Mueller submitted his report to the Department of Justice, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the House’s No. 2 Republican, said he expected Attorney General William Barr to brief lawmakers on how much it cost Mueller to “bully people” during his “meandering” investigation.
But since Barr released a summary of Mueller’s findings—which stated that Trump did not collude with Russia (by the legal standard) and cleared him on dicier accusations that he obstructed the investigation—most Republicans have grown agnostic if not downright quiet in their quest to find out the taxpayer burden of the Russiagate probe, choosing instead to take a victory lap over Trump’s self-described “exoneration” and urging Democrats to move on.
Asked on Wednesday if he wanted to learn more about the price tag of the special counsel probe, Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, sidestepped the question, instead launching into a defense of Barr. A senior member of the committee, Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), shrugged at the same question.
“It isn’t my priority,” Buck told The Daily Beast. “Finding the truth is important, and it was an important subject.”
And a close ally of the president, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), told The Daily Beast that while accountability is a good thing, “as we look at it, I think there are bigger concerns of transparency” than the cost of the investigation.