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Special counsel John Durham has spent at least $6.5 million over the last two years on its investigation of the FBI’s inquiry into ties between former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.
Published on Friday just ahead of Christmas, at a time when the politically charged probe has been relatively quiet following a couple of high-profile court cases this year, the Department of Justice’s latest financial disclosure shows Durham’s office (SCO) spent over $2 million from April 1 to September 30.
Half of that money went to personnel compensation and benefits, while the rest covered travel, rent, communications, utilities, contractual services such as IT support, and supplies. An internal review “identified no material weaknesses or significant deficiencies in the design or operation of SCO controls,” the document noted.
Durham was assigned the probe by then-Attorney General William Barr in May 2019, shortly after special counsel Robert Mueller released his report on the Trump-Russia investigation. Durham was the U.S. attorney in Connecticut at the time of the appointment, but on October 19, 2020, Barr elevated him to special counsel, giving the prosecutor extra protections and the investigation a better chance at longevity ahead of the presidential election.
Though Durham resigned as U.S. attorney after President Joe Biden took office, Attorney General Merrick Garland allowed his special counsel probe to continue, along with the Justice Department inquiry into Hunter Biden.
Put together, financial documents released biannually by the Justice Department show Durham’s team has spent $6.5 million in total since his special counsel appointment, which is about a fifth of the nearly $32 million spent in Mueller’s investigation.
Durham’s investigation has been cheered by Trump and his allies while Democrats and others have criticized it as a politically tainted endeavor meant to discredit Mueller and top officials from the FBI.
So far, Durham has secured one guilty plea: that of former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who was accused of falsifying a document in efforts to renew the authority to conduct FISA surveillance on onetime Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page. Clinesmith was spared prison time and faced a one-year bar suspension.
This year, Durham endured setbacks when prosecutions against former Hillary Clinton campaign attorney Michael Sussmann and Igor Danchenko, a key source for British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s anti-Trump dossier, ended in acquittal in Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia, respectively. While it remains unclear whether Durham will conduct any more prosecutions in the investigation, he is expected to produce a report at the end of the inquiry.