Celebrating the end of the Justice Department’s Russia probe with a round of cable news interviews, Rudy Giuliani falsely claimed special counsel Robert Mueller earned millions of dollars for the investigation.
“The guy got paid upwards of somewhere around $30 million, but he couldn’t make the key decision,” Giuliani, one of President Donald Trump’s attorneys, said on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program Monday night. “His hands were shaking.”
In reality, Mueller earned a salary of $161,900, according to Politico and Money magazine. The latter outlet pointed out that top lawyers on Mueller’s team took yearly pay cuts of more than $1 million each to work on the investigation.
Mueller himself took a major pay cut upon accepting the federal position in 2017 and leaving the law firm WilmerHale, where he made more than $3 million in less than a year as a partner, The Washington Post reported.
Though the special counsel’s paychecks were a far cry from the $30 million figure Giuliani claimed, Hannity, one of Trump’s fiercest supporters in the media, let the falsehood fly.
The potential source of Giuliani’s claim could well be the overall cost of the Russia probe, which is on track to reach roughly $34 million, according to a PolitiFact analysis published Tuesday.
On Sunday, hours after the release of Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the special counsel report, the Republican National Committee tweeted that through last September, the investigation’s cost surpassed $25 million ― which PolitiFact confirmed, citing Justice Department expenditure reports.
Though Trump’s supporters have criticized Mueller’s probe as a waste of money, past investigations of former President Bill Clinton and then-first lady Hillary Clinton’s Whitewater Development Corporation associates, as well as the Monica Lewinsky scandal, totaled $70 million, according to figures from the General Accounting Office, now known as the Government Accountability Office.