Special counsel Jack Smith and his team of 40 to 60 prosecutors is on track to spend about $25 million a year, but their efforts aren’t detracting from the Justice Department’s other regular duties, the New York Times reports. Smith’s team also includes paralegals, support staff, FBI agents and technical specialists. His first four months on the job incurred $9.2 million in expenses, including a $1.9 million security detail to protect Smith, his family and other investigators. The driver behind the spending is former President Donald Trump’s own behavior. Agencies are paying what an official called a “Trump tax,” where leaders are being forced to spend disproportionate amounts of time on the former president.
The $25 million number is not a comprehensive figure showing what has been spent addressing Trump’s behavior and influence before, during and after the 2020 election, either. Justice Department officials say the effort to prosecute Jan. 6 rioters is the largest investigation in its history. Republicans have made the scale of the federal investigation of Trump and his associates an issue in itself. Republicans grilled the FBI director on the scale of the investigations earlier this year. “What Jack Smith is doing is actually pretty cheap considering the momentous nature of the charges,” said Timothy J. Heaphy, former U.S. attorney who served as lead investigator for the House committee that investigated the Capitol assault. The “greater cost” is likely to be the damage inflicted by relentless attacks on the department, which could be “incalculable,” he added. The Justice Department is a sprawling organization with an annual budget of around $40 billion, and it has more than enough staff to absorb the diversion of key prosecutors, officials said. A vast majority of Smith’s staff members were already assigned to those cases before he was appointed, simply moving their offices across town to work under him. Department officials have emphasized that about half of the special counsel’s expenses would have been paid out, in the form of staff salaries, had the department never investigated Trump.