On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that former FBI leaders James Comey and Andrew McCabe — whom former President Donald Trump repeatedly called for to be investigated or imprisoned for not running the agency the way he wanted — were targeted for an extremely rare and invasive type of tax audit that the Internal Revenue Service claims is "random."
"The odds of being selected for that audit in any given year are tiny — out of nearly 153 million individual returns filed for 2017, for example, the I.R.S. targeted about 5,000, or roughly one out of 30,600," reported Michael Schmidt. "One of the few who received a bureaucratic letter with the news that his 2017 return would be under intensive scrutiny was James B. Comey, who had been fired as F.B.I. director that year by President Donald J. Trump. Furious over what he saw as Mr. Comey’s lack of loyalty and his pursuit of the Russia investigation, Mr. Trump had continued to rail against him even after his dismissal, accusing him of treason, calling for his prosecution and publicly complaining about the money Mr. Comey received for a book after his dismissal."
"Among those who were chosen to have their 2019 returns scrutinized was the man who had been Mr. Comey’s deputy at the bureau: Andrew G. McCabe, who served several months as acting F.B.I. director after Mr. Comey’s firing," the report continued. "Mr. McCabe was later dismissed by the Trump Justice Department after its watchdog accused him of misleading internal F.B.I. investigators. Like Mr. Comey, he had come to be perceived as an enemy by Mr. Trump, who assailed him, accused him of treason and raised questions about his finances long after pushing for his dismissal and prosecution, a pattern that continued even after Mr. Trump lost the 2020 election and began trying to overturn the results."
The IRS denies that Trump's IRS commissioner, Charles Rettig, intervened politically against the two. “Commissioner Rettig is not involved in individual audits or taxpayer cases; those are handled by career civil servants,” said the agency in a statement. “As I.R.S. commissioner, he has never been in contact with the White House — in either administration — on I.R.S. enforcement or individual taxpayer matters. He has been committed to running the I.R.S. in an impartial, unbiased manner from top to bottom.”
Former President Richard Nixon famously used the IRS to target political opponents, one of many abuses of his presidency that ultimately culminated in the Watergate investigation and his resignation.
"It is illegal under federal law for anyone in the executive branch — with a few narrow exceptions — to request that the I.R.S. conduct an audit or an investigation of someone’s taxes," noted the report. "Any I.R.S. employee receiving such a request is required to report it to the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration. Those caught violating the law can be sentenced to up to five years in prison."