The Department of Justice has refused to disclose how much tax money special counsel Robert Mueller is spending, further undermining public confidence in his probe of allegations the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
The problem with Mueller’s investigation is that it’s been running a year now, and no evidence of collusion has turned up.
The concealment of the budget was confirmed in a letter from the Department of Justice to Washington watchdog Judicial Watch.
“A search has been conducted in the Special Counsel’s Office and seven pages were located that contain records responsive to your client’s request. We have determined that this material should be withheld in full because it is protected from disclosure under the [Freedom of Information Act],” the Justice Department said.
The DOJ cited provisions for “certain inter- and intra-agency records” that are part of the “deliberative process privilege” as well as claims that those records “could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings.”
The DOJ did not address how knowledge of the budget for the special counsel’s office would have any impact on the investigation or any prosecution.
Judicial Watch explained it is trying to get the information about the investigation into the “surveillance, unmasking and illegal leaking targeting President Trump and his associates during the FBI’s investigation of potential Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election.”
“Special Counsel Mueller’s operation is not above the law,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The American people have a right to know how much taxpayer money is planned for his massive investigation.
“No one else in D.C. seems to be providing oversight of the Mueller operation, so once again it is up to the citizen’s group Judicial Watch to fight for accountability,” he said.
Judicial Watch wanted “the copy of the budget prepared or submitted” by Mueller.
The DOJ refused, stating: “While not responsive to your request, please note that the department has publicly made available the special counsel’s Office’s Statement of Expenditures from May 17, 2017, to September 30, 2017.”
Judicial Watch said the Justice Department “asserts the Mueller budget information cannot be released because its release could interfere with ‘law enforcement proceedings’ and the material is protected from disclosure by the ‘deliberative process privilege.'”
The government’s response came after Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit because the DOJ refused to provide the information.
The organization did note that Mueller spent more than $3.2 million from May to September last year. But the information provided only broad categories and totals, such as “personnel compensation and benefits” for more than $1.7 million, and “contractual services” for $157,000.
Meanwhil, a veteran Washington courtroom fighter, Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch, confirmed he has filed a lawsuit seeking Mueller’s communications with the media.
“Robert Mueller and his staff, who are alleged to have illegally leaked grand jury information to damage the president, his family and associates, have thus far been untouched by the inept and inert Justice Department, run by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who appears afraid that he himself may be indicted by Mueller for alleged Russian collusion and obstruction of justice,” Klayman said.
“Freedom Watch is not afraid and is doing the job of my former alma mater, which has regrettably become the ‘Department of Prosecutorial Misconduct and Injustice.’ I will not rest until Robert Mueller and his partisan leftist prosecutors are removed and replaced with an honest and ethical special counsel and staff, who will not abuse their authority for political purposes, but instead expeditiously conduct and conclude this Russian collusion investigation on the merits before more harm is done to the nation.”
His lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, is against Mueller, the DOJ and the FBI.
The action seeks a court order stating the defendants “have failed to make bona fide, good faith determinations about whether they will comply with Freedom Watch’s request” for information.
Klayman, a former federal prosecutor, is seeking “communications by and between the media and the Office of the Special Counsel of Robert Mueller.”
He previously filed complaints with the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility and inspector general demanding an investigation into allegations of incessant criminal grand jury leaks by Mueller and his staff, as well as their conflicts of interest “as Democrat partisans bent on destroying the Trump presidency.”
He’s obtained on a petition the signatures of more than 11,000 people who want him named special counsel to investigate the Clintons, Uranium One and Fusion GPS.
He has filed a separate legal action that seeks to remove Mueller as special counsel.
“Only a special counsel can investigate and bring strong criminal charges over these scandals and I am the person to do this. In all modesty, I am the only lawyer who has the guts to finally bring the Clintons and Obama and his fellow criminals to justice, indict them and have them thrown in prison for the rest of their lives,” he explains.