Charlotte, NC — The second impeachment of President Donald J. Trump finally concluded yesterday with no conviction. The Democrats are 0-2 in impeachment as the former president was acquitted in both instances. As lawmakers closed their dramatic arguments for and against, some are left wondering; how much did the trial cost taxpayers? How much did it cost Trump?
As it stands, it isn’t entirely clear and estimates widely vary. If you were to ask Speaker Nancy Pelosi, there isn’t a dollar amount she would flinch at when it comes to Trump. She is the same big-spending Democrat and, especially when defending the US Constitution, she doesn’t believe you can put a price on that. There’s a first for everything.
Pelosi on impeachment: "I want the American public to know there is no opportunity cost for defending the Constitution."
— Eliza Relman (@eliza_relman) February 4, 2021
But for those of us who care about budget deficits and out of control government spending, the price of something so unbelievably trivial is of great importance. In fact, Roll Call, a news service that specializes in covering Congress, reports that the January 2020 impeachment cost approximately $1.83 million, and most of that money was already budgeted in Congressional operations. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s salary and expenses were also part of regular expenditures. Another estimate from the Heritage Foundation put the price tag at $3.06 million. This included the salaries of not only lawmakers but 106 congressional staffers and six lawyers.
While the figure doesn’t include the Senate trial, the tab through December 2020 is sharply lower than the one for the impeachment investigation and trial of former President Bill Clinton for comparison. According to CNN, back when they were a legit news outlet, the independent probe into Clinton cost taxpayer $80 million in 1994.
If your memory can reach back to the time before COVID-19—no shame if it can’t—you may recall the last big story before the pandemic struck: the impeachment of President Donald Trump only lasted two weeks and six days. In December 2019, the House of Representatives impeached Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. This latest failed attempt only took 5 days by comparison.
According to Yahoo! Finance, the first Trump impeachment cost approximately $11.5 million dollars. Yahoo! calculated that for every dollar of 2019 taxes, the cost is $0.000026 in the context of the $4.4 trillion spent in 2019 by the federal government. By comparison, the heightened security measures around the Capitol has reportedly cost $519 million.
In 2019, the RNC and Trump’s fundraising committees brought in a combined $463.6 million, ending the year with $194.8 million in the bank, highlighting the party’s success in capitalizing on the threat of impeachment.
Although the cost of Trump’s current defense team could not be confirmed, it won’t be paid by American tax dollars. In fact, through November 2020, the Republican National Committee paid $225,000 to the law firms of Jay Sekulow and Jane Raskin since 2017 when they were named to his legal team. It is worth noting Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz did not accept payment for his work on the first impeachment trial. The RNC is likely to pay those individuals through February in light of the second impeachment trial.
Since President Trump is on trial yet again and as an officeholder or candidate, election law allows him to dip into campaign or party funds for his legal bills. “We are more than happy to cover some of the costs defending the president from this partisan impeachment sham,” said Mike Reed, RNC deputy chief of staff for communications.
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