Trump’s Targeting Of Political Foes Referred For Federal Investigation

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James Comey and Andrew McCabe, former top officials at the FBI who frequently attracted intense criticism from Trump, were both audited by the IRS, despite the supposed randomization of the selection process for who gets subjected to the particular auditing which they faced. The IRS has referred the matter for investigation by the inspector general overseeing tax-related issues.

Such audits aren’t frequently undertaken — some several thousand Americans each year are investigated, and that’s it. So how did both Comey and McCabe end up facing audits? The apparent potential possibility is that the mechanisms of the IRS were essentially weaponized against both Comey and McCabe. Trump has (loudly) pushed for Comey and McCabe to be prosecuted for non-existent offenses against him, and an IRS audit could have been seen somewhere in Trump World as, for Trump’s ambitions, the next best thing. “The IRS has referred the matter to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration for review,” an agency statement says. “It is not clear how two close associates both came to be scrutinized under the same audit program in a matter of a few years,” a report from The New York Times adds, referring to Comey and McCabe.

“Audits are handled by career civil servants, and the IRS has strong safeguards in place to protect the exam process — and against politically motivated audits,” an agency statement added. “It’s ludicrous and untrue to suggest that senior IRS officials somehow targeted specific individuals for National Research Program audits.” Nonetheless, the agency referred the matter for investigation. Both Comey and McCabe — who served as director and deputy director at the FBI — indicated they were suspicious of how it turned out that each were among the fewer than 10,000 Americans audited by the IRS in the manner they faced in connection to the years for which they were targeted. Comey was audited in connection to his 2017 taxes, while McCabe’s audit covered 2019. The 2017 audit happens to correspond to the year in which Trump fired Comey from his post at the helm of the FBI, indicating the dramatic level of attention on him.

Senate Finance Committee chair Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) indicated action by his panel on the matter was possible, saying: “A thorough [inspector general] investigation of this matter is crucial, and we’re going to look at what steps the Finance Committee could potentially take.” The current head of the IRS, it’s worth noting, was selected by Trump and assumed his position in 2018 — after which point both Comey and McCabe were informed of the audits targeting them. Comey got word in 2019 of the audit he was facing; McCabe’s notification came last year. Even if Trump didn’t personally direct the audits targeting the former FBI officials, one of his goons at the IRS could have decided to essentially act on the ex-president’s behalf.