(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced that after 16 months, it has finally received 3 pages of budget records from the U.S Department of Justice (DOJ) concerning the operations of the Office of Special Counsel John Durham that show its fiscal year 2022 budget was over $8.5 million.
The document production comes in the March 2022 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch after the DOJ failed to respond to an August 2021, request for records of communication between Special Counsel John Durham and Attorney General Merrick Garland, and all budget records related to the operations of the office of Special Counsel (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:22-cv-00734)).
Durham was appointed to serve as Special Counsel for the Department of Justice on October 19, 2020:
The Special Counsel is authorized to investigate whether any federal official, employee, or any other person or entity violated the law in connection with the intelligence, counter-intelligence, or law-enforcement activities directed at the 2016 presidential campaigns, individuals associated with those campaigns, and individuals associated with the administration of President Donald J. Trump, including but not limited to Crossfire Hurricane and the investigation of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, Ill.
The Department of Justice initially produced budget records responsive to the Judicial Watch lawsuit on June 3, 2022, but redacted the actual budget numbers. Judicial Watch challenged the withheld information, and the DOJ now has re-released the documents without the redactions.
The supplemental response includes an unredacted June 30, 2021, memo from Assistant Attorney General Lee Lofthus to Attorney General Garland with the subject line “Fiscal Year 2022 Special Counsel’s Office Budget Request,” showing a previously withheld estimated budget of $8,627,629.
Attached is the John Durham Special Counsel Office Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget plan. The Justice Management Division has completed its review under 28 C.F.R. 600.8(a)(1). The FY 2022 budget estimate is $4,463,525 which, after Office of Management and Budget technical adjustments for the mandatory sequester, totals $4,209,104 in available operational funds. [Emphasis supplied for previously redacted numbers]
In a line-item breakout of costs for FY 2022 attached to the memo, DOJ has now released figures indicating that total income paid to “Full Time Permanent” personnel, including benefits, was $1,874,193. Non-reimbursable costs totaled $2,334,911, for costs such as travel ($457,207), rent ($306,350), and “Other Contractual Services” ($1,297,054). The budget also indicates there was one direct position, 11 “Reimbursable Detailees” and three “Non-Reimbursable Investigative Staff,” for a total of 15 personnel. [Emphasis supplied for previously redacted numbers]
“Special Counsel Durham has spent millions in tax dollars to investigate the worst government corruption scandal in American history – the abuse of Trump – to little good end,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “That we had to file a federal lawsuit to get basic budget information about this historic investigation speaks volumes. And that the Garland DOJ is still hiding documents adds to the scandal.”