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IRS asks watchdog to probe tax audits of Trump foes Comey, McCabe


Former FBI Director James Comey (2nd L) arrives on Capitol Hill for a closed hearing before the House Judiciary Committee in Washington, DC on December 7, 2018. 

Alex Edelman | AFP | Getty Images

The top of the IRS has asked the Treasury Department’s internal watchdog to research the agency’s tax audits of two men who’ve been frequent targets of criticism from former President Donald Trump: ex-FBI Director James Comey and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

The inquiry was announced Thursday, a day after The Recent York Times reported that each Comey and McCabe had been subject to the extremely rare audits.

Comey was audited for his federal tax returns for 2017 and 2019, in response to the Times. McCabe was audited for his 2019 federal tax return.

Trump, who appointed current Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles Rettig to his post, served as president from January 2017 through January 2021.

The Times noted that only about one out of 30,600 tax filers were audited for his or her 2017 returns. The IRS’s data book says that for all returns filed for the tax years 2011 through 2019, just 0.55% of individual returns were audited.

“The IRS has referred the matter to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration for review,” said IRS spokesperson Jodie Reynolds, whose agency is a division of the Treasury Department.

“IRS Commissioner Rettig personally reached out to TIGTA after receiving a press inquiry,” Reynolds said.

Trump fired Comey as FBI director in 2017 because the bureau was investigating possible ties between members of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia.

McCabe, who became acting FBI director, himself was fired in March 2018 by Trump’s then-attorney general, Jeff Sessions, just days before McCabe was set to retire and change into eligible for full pension advantages.

McCabe on Wednesday night called for an investigation of the audits during an interview on CNN, where he’s a law enforcement analyst.

Former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe speaks during a forum on election security titled, “2020 Vision: Intelligence and the U.S. Presidential Election” on the National Press Club in Washington, October 30, 2019.

Joshua Roberts | Reuters

“It just defies logic to think that there wasn’t another factor involved,” McCabe said, referring to the concept that audit targets are chosen randomly. Each McCabe and Comey were told in letters that their returns were chosen in that manner.

“I believe that is an affordable query,” McCabe said. “I believe it needs to be investigated. People have to have the opportunity to trust the institutions of presidency and in order that’s why there needs to be some we must always dig through this and discover what happened.”

Reynolds, the IRS spokesperson, said, “Federal Privacy laws preclude us from discussing specific taxpayer situations. Audits are handled by profession civil servants, and the IRS has strong safeguards in place to guard the exam process – and against politically motivated audits.”

“It’s ludicrous and unfaithful to suggest that senior IRS officials in some way targeted specific individuals for National Research Program audits,” Reynolds said.

But Rep. Bill Pascrell, a Recent Jersey Democrat who has been a harsh critic of Rettig, on Thursday reiterated his demand for the IRS chief to be fired by President Joe Biden in light of the report of the audits, which he called “a titanic scandal.”

“If you happen to think the audit of Donald Trump’s purported enemies was a random act of God then I actually have a bridge in North Jersey I’d prefer to sell you,” said Pascrell, who’s chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight.

“There could also be no group on the face of this earth that deserves the advantage of the doubt lower than Donald Trump and his government enablers,” the lawmaker said. “The IRS under Donald Trump’s handpicked commissioner Charles Rettig has been one catastrophe after one other.”

That is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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