Trump Wages War On Scientology & What He Said To Leah Remini Has The Church Livid

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Plenty of people could probably create a pretty lengthy list of things with which not to agree with President Trump, including health care, education, tax reform, his communication with foreign leaders, and colluding with Russia to win an election, just to name a few big ones.

Now, it appears that the Trump Administration may be doing some interfering with the IRS on a level that could be problematic. However, some might actually be agreeable with the reason behind it. According to the Huffpost:

‘President Donald Trump believes the Church of Scientology should have its tax exemption revoked, a longtime family aide and current top official at the Department of Housing and Urban Development told an actress and producer in May.’

Here is what one Twitter user had to say:

Lynne Patton, who has worked for the Trump family since 2009, told actress Leah Remini via Twitter about Trump’s position. Remini contacted Patton, who then responded that she would contact the IRS directly to seek more information, hopefully with the end goal of revoking The Church of Scientology’s tax exempt status. Patton messaged Remini back the same day saying:

‘From the moment I saw your series I told President Trump & his family we needed to revoke their tax exempt status. They couldn’t agree more, but please don’t publicize that yet. I want to do more due diligence on what the IRS has attempted in the past (or maybe you can enlighten me), then I’ll identify who we need to connect with again.’

Here are some of the messages received by HuffPost which were sent back in May:

Remini has long been an advocate for exposing Scientology as being a cult and has been doing a series titled Scientology and The Aftermath. Here is an excerpt of Remini speaking about it with Stephen Colbert:

According to HuffPost:

‘It’s not clear if Patton ever communicated with the IRS. But if Trump did express an opinion on the church and Patton did contact the IRS about it, as her message suggests, that would be a highly inappropriate level of interference with the IRS by the administration, one expert said.’

Larry Noble, the former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission said:

‘For the White House or any administration official to try and influence who the IRS targets, for whatever reason, is wrong and could result in a violation of the law. The IRS must make these decisions independently without any influence by the White House or administration officials.’

Lynne Patton is over the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Region II, the areas of New York and New Jersey. Patton began her position in June after being appointed by the Trump administration. Prior to this position, she was the senior adviser and director of public engagement under HUD Director Ben Carson.

There was a good amount of conflict between Patton and Carson which let to her being promoted to her current position.  In July 2016, she spoke at The Republican National Convention as vice president of the Eric Trump foundation. So, there is a longtime relationship between Patton and the Trump family.

According to HuffPost:

‘…the Trumps have a deep appreciation for the loyalty and dedication Patton has shown to the family over the past eight years, especially during the 2016 presidential campaign.’

Scientology first obtained tax-exempt status in 1957, which was later revoked by the IRS in 1967. After their status being revoked, the founder L. Ron Hubbard launched a 26 year campaign into getting their tax-exempt status reinstated, by drastic means it seems. Hubbard even infiltrated government agencies, including filing lawsuits against the IRS.

According to the IRS, though, Trump cannot really make the decision to revoke tax-exempt status. The IRS website says:

‘The IRS may begin a church tax inquiry only if an appropriate high-level Treasury official reasonably believes, on the basis of facts and circumstances recorded in writing, that an organization claiming to be a church or convention or association of churches may not qualify for exemption.’

What is interesting is that after June, Remini never heard from Patton again, and then later saw her photographed publicly with a Scientologist who HuffPost says “has quickly risen up the ranks in Trump world.”

Here were some reactions on Twitter to The Church of Scientology’s tax-exempt status being revoked:

Featured image by Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images

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