Senate ramps up investigation into IRS whistleblower’s warning of interference with Trump or Pence audit
Donald Trump and Governor Mike Pence of Indiana speaking to supporters at an immigration policy speech at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

According to a report from the Washington Post, Senate investigators are moving forward and looking into a whistleblower complaint that an unnamed Treasury Department appointee has been interfering with IRS audits of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

The report states that the complaint was "first disclosed in an August court filing by Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, who said it raises 'serious and urgent concerns' about the system for auditing the president."

Neal has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration demanding the president’s tax returns, which Trump has refused to reveal despite promises made when he was campaigning for President.

Even as the president's impeachment trial is winding down in the Senate, staffers for Sens. Charles E. Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) have "conducted an extensive interview of a whistleblower at the Internal Revenue Service who has alleged improper political interference in the audit of the president or vice president, according to two people familiar with the meeting," the Post reports.

"The whistleblower, a career IRS employee, has alleged that at least one political appointee at the Treasury Department may have tried interfering with the audit of President Trump or Vice President Pence. Democratic lawmakers have stressed the importance of thoroughly investigating the complaint, while Trump administration officials have downplayed its seriousness and said it is based on hearsay," the report continues.

According to Steve Rosenthal, a senior fellow in the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, "It seems Wyden and Grassley are doing their due diligence. The tax-writing committees ought to find out about this. The next step would be, depending on what happened, pursuing the next step to corroborate what the whistleblower said.”

"There has been extreme focus on Trump’s tax returns and less scrutiny of those of Pence, but the presidential audit program applies to both offices," the report points out, with former IRS commissioner Mark Everson, stating, "Obviously, it’s serious anytime an allegation of this nature is leveled. That said, it has to be substantiated, and there has to be an understanding of what contact took place."