At 6:54 a.m. on Thursday, President Donald Trump continued his onslaught against special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“Did you ever see an investigation more in search of a crime? At the same time Mueller and the Angry Democrats aren’t even looking at the atrocious, and perhaps subversive, crimes that were committed by Crooked Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. A total disgrace!”
Then, at 7:16 a.m., he added:
“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!”
This is, of course, standard fare for Trump – although the pace of his attacks have ramped up of late as Mueller appears to be tightening his grip on those close to Trump.
Amid Trump’s rhetorical rapid-fire, it’s easy to lose sight of the actual facts here. And those facts paint a very different picture from the one Trump is trying to push.
Here are just a few of those facts. (And you should check out this terrific database on the Russia investigation from CNN’s Russia team.)
1. There have been 192 criminal charges brought by Mueller.
2. With Michael Cohen pleading guilty to lying to congressional investigators about his ties to Russia on Thursday, there are now seven people who have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the Mueller probe.
3. Among those seven are: Cohen (Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer), Paul Manafort (former Trump campaign chairman), Rick Gates (former deputy campaign chairman) and Michael Flynn (former national security adviser). These are not low-level underlings.
4. Manafort, who is accused of breaking his plea deal by lying to Mueller’s team, was convicted by a jury of his peers for his pre-Trump campaign work with the Ukrainian government.
5. Mueller was appointed as special counsel on May 17, 2017. That’s 18 months ago. That’s far shorter than other high-profile special investigations like it – including Whitewater and Iran Contra, both of which lasted more than six years.
6. The direct costs that Congress has allocated for the special counsel’s office is $10.4 million for fiscal year 2017 and $10.4 million for fiscal year 2018, which runs through September 2019. So the direct cost of the investigation could – if the probe last until next September – be north of $20 million. Not $40 million.
7. Three people – Alex van der Zwaan, Richard Pinedo and George Papadopoulos – have been sentenced to prison as a result of the Mueller investigation.