From the beginning, Donald Trump has been rage-tweeting about the Mueller investigation. He’s thrown out every lie and conspiracy theory he can dream up. Here’s one from back in May:
Can you believe that with all of the made up, unsourced stories I get from the Fake News Media, together with the $10,000,000 Russian Witch Hunt (there is no Collusion), I now have my best Poll Numbers in a year. Much of the Media may be corrupt, but the People truly get it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 15, 2018
Just five days later, either Mueller had gone on a gigantic spending spree, or the president demonstrated that he was blatantly lying:
….At what point does this soon to be $20,000,000 Witch Hunt, composed of 13 Angry and Heavily Conflicted Democrats and two people who have worked for Obama for 8 years, STOP! They have found no Collussion with Russia, No Obstruction, but they aren’t looking at the corruption…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2018
Six months later, the figure had suddenly jumped another $10 million:
….terrible Gang of Angry Democrats. Look at their past, and look where they come from. The now $30,000,000 Witch Hunt continues and they’ve got nothing but ruined lives. Where is the Server? Let these terrible people go back to the Clinton Foundation and “Justice” Department!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2018
But a mere two days later, it positively exploded another $10 million:
When will this illegal Joseph McCarthy style Witch Hunt, one that has shattered so many innocent lives, ever end-or will it just go on forever? After wasting more than $40,000,000 (is that possible?), it has proven only one thing-there was NO Collusion with Russia. So Ridiculous!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2018
Who needs a fact-checker when the president makes it so obvious that he’s just making numbers up out of whole cloth?
What is actually exploding here is Trump’s anxiety. The president is totally clueless about how much the Mueller investigation is costing. But as things heat up around him, the lies get bigger. It’s like a toddler who’s not getting his way and thinks that stomping his feet harder will change things. I never want to get over being shocked that so often the best analogy for this president’s behavior is a tantruming toddler.
For those of you who are actually interested in knowing the truth, Politifact did a check after the second tweet above that claimed the investigation was costing $20 million. Based on an initial report from Mueller’s office, they estimate that the costs at the time (after one full year) would be about $8.5 million. If they continued to spend at the same rate, six months later it would be approaching a total of $13 million. Politifact also provided this for some added context:
The investigation of President Bill Clinton over Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky — headed by Kenneth Starr and then by his successor, Robert Ray — cost upward of $52 million over half a decade. Another $40 million-plus went toward a handful of other Clinton-era independent counsel investigations.
Meanwhile, the investigation of Reagan administration officials over the Iran-Contra Affair, headed by Lawrence Walsh, topped out at more than $47 million over a roughly similar period.
Those figures are direct costs only, and are not adjusted for inflation. Their price tags would be far higher when converted to 2018 dollars.
I’ll add one more number for some perspective. The Pentagon told Congress that the Trump administration’s deployment of troops to our southern border will cost about $210 million. Just imagine what Mueller could do with that kind of cash!