House Dem urges Biden to fire Trump-picked IRS chief over 'titanic' audit scandal
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on COVID-19 and the economy, Thursday, July 29, 2021, in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey demanded Thursday that President Joe Biden fire the Trump-picked Internal Revenue Service chief in the wake of revelations that the agency conducted rare and intensive audits of ex-FBI director James Comey and his deputy, Andrew McCabe.

"The IRS under Donald Trump's handpicked commissioner Charles Rettig has been one catastrophe after another."

"If you think the audit of Donald Trump's purported enemies was a random act of God, then I have a bridge in North Jersey I'd like to sell you," Pascrell, the chair of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, said in a statement, rejecting the tax agency's insistence that it is "ludicrous and untrue to suggest" Comey and McCabe were deliberately targeted by the exhaustive audits, which are supposed to be random.

"There may be no group on the face of this earth that deserves the benefit of the doubt less than Donald Trump and his government enablers," Pascrell continued. "The IRS under Donald Trump's handpicked commissioner Charles Rettig has been one catastrophe after another. The auditing of two law enforcement leaders at Trump's behest is a titanic scandal."

While welcoming news that a Treasury Department inspector general who oversees tax issues is set to investigate the audits—which were first reported earlier this week by the New York Times—Pascrell said that Biden should "fire Mr. Rettig immediately."

"If Mr. Rettig cared at all about this agency he would hand in his resignation today," Pascrell added. "And if he doesn't go, Mr. Rettig should be impeached."

Comey was notified of the IRS audit of his 2017 tax return in 2019, two years after Trump fired him. McCabe, whose 2019 tax return was the subject of close IRS scrutiny, was terminated by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2018.

As the Times noted, the odds of being selected for the intense IRS audit in a 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."

Rettig's four-year term is set to expire in November. Asked on Thursday whether Biden still has confidence that Rettig can properly run the IRS, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre dodged the question and said, "His term is up in November."

"We don't comment on enforcement actions taken by the IRS," Jean-Pierre told reporters. "He is going to be up in November. So I will leave it there."