It remains to be seen what White House critics hope to get out of the special investigation on the Russia matter. There’s some cost involved though.
“Special investigations and congressional investigations have been a standard part of the political process for more than a century. In the 1870s, Ulysses S. Grant [and] the Whiskey Ring scandal; more recently, there has been Richard Nixon and Watergate; Ronald Reagan and Iran-Contra; Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky; and Hillary Clinton and Benghazi,” writes Eliza Mills, a producer for Marketplace, which produces programming for 800 public radio stations nationwide.
“Investigations, whether they’re carried out by Congress, a special independent counsel or a panel of judges, cost money,” she says, noting that the Clinton investigation came to about $79 million and the IranContra probe cost about $47 million.
“Because investigations don’t necessarily have deadlines, the bills can rack up quickly. There’s no clear way to predict how much money will be spent in advance — typically, the U.S. attorney general controls the purse strings for special counsel investigations and sets the parameters of the jurisdiction, appoints the investigator and even rejects findings. Congressional investigations typically don’t get special funding from Congress; instead, they are already part of the congressional budget. But they have a political and financial cost when other work has to be sidelined,” Ms. Mills says.