Millions of dollars are being spent by the Congress on investigations related to Russia’s alleged interference in last year’s election, but the taxpayers have no idea how much exactly all of that costs.
Unnamed congressional aide has told USA Today that the Senate intelligence committee has received extra 1.2 million dollars this year for the investigation and that two employees have been added to help with the probes. Two new lawyers have been added to the House intelligence committee too. According to the expense reports, they cost 290,000 dollars a year.
But the Congress is not the only body that spends money on investigations connected to Russia. Special counsel Robert Mueller is also running investigation out of the Justice Department. No one knows how big the costs for that are. No one knows how much the White House legal office spends to respond to inquiries. The Congress hasn’t created a special committee for the investigation. It would be much easier to track the spending of a special committee because all of its budget supports one investigation.
The House intelligence committee has spent more than 3.2 million dollars through August on salaries, equipment and other things, and that’s up nearly 600,000 dollars same period a year ago, but the committee hasn’t revealed how much of that money has been spent on the investigations connected to the alleged Russian interference in the elections.
“I would say that up to 20% of their time is spent on the Russia investigation. When you work with the staff of the House intelligence committee, you’re struck by the vast scale of their responsibility,” says Charles Tiefer, who served as general counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives from 1984 to 1995 and was special deputy chief counsel for the House Iran-Contra Committee’s investigation of the Reagan administration.
House and Senate intelligence agencies oversee seventeen military and civilian intelligence agencies. Their total budget is estimated to be about 75 billion dollars.
The Senate intelligence committee doesn’t have to file monthly public expense reports, but intelligence Chairman Richard Burr earlier this year estimated that the expenses would be about 3.2 million dollars from March through September and about 5.5 million dollars from October through September next year. That sum is the same as the one form last year, but it was presented before the allocation of the extra 1.2 million dollars.