The New York Times is confirming that Gen. John Kelly confirmed that former President Donald Trump wanted the IRS to audit his foes.
"While in office, President Donald J. Trump repeatedly told John F. Kelly, his second White House chief of staff, that he wanted a number of his perceived political enemies to be investigated by the Internal Revenue Service," the Times said, citing the former general.
Kelly was the chief of staff from July 2017 to the end of 2018, when he and most of his loyalists were shoved out. Trump's children Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump didn't like that Kelly refused to allow them "walk-in privileges," where they could simply walk into the Oval Office. They've denied any issues they had with Kelly. Reports claimed, however, Ivanka Trump took the lead in firing Kelly.
In a July report, The New York Times revealed that at least two of President Donald Trump's foes were suspiciously targeted by the IRS for extensive and "invasive" audits.
"Trump’s demands were part of a broader pattern of him trying to use the Justice Department and his authority as president against people who had been critical of him, including seeking to revoke the security clearances of former top intelligence officials," the report said.
Trump had frequently complained about people like John Brennan, who he said shouldn't have any kind of security clearance while giving interviews on cable. Trump also wanted to go after Andrew McCabe, who Trump decided he hated because McCabe's wife was running for a local office in Virginia and was a Hillary Clinton supporter. Trump also tried to go after former FBI Director James Comey, who Trump raged about frequently on Twitter. Both McCabe and Comey experienced incredibly invasive audits in 2019, after Kelly was gone.
“The U.S. government, whether it’s the I.R.S. or the Justice Department, should never be weaponized or used to retaliate, and certainly not because someone criticizes you in the press or is your political opponent,” Kelly said when asked about it by the Times. “The average federal employee or F.B.I. agent or I.R.S. agent goes to work and executes the laws and regulations and shouldn’t be put in this position.”
Trump specifically suggested using the IRS and the Justice Department to "investigate the former CIA director John O. Brennan; Hillary Clinton; Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and the owner of The Washington Post." Trump hated his coverage in the Post. He also wanted to go after "Peter Strzok, the lead F.B.I. agent on the Russia investigation; and Lisa Page, an F.B.I. official who exchanged text messages with Mr. Strzok that were critical of Mr. Trump."
Trump's spokesperson denies the claims calling the four-star, marine, general a "psycho."
One of the people who did end up in prison with claims of "tax fraud" was Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer. Cohen maintains that he's never not paid his taxes, even when it was in the millions of dollars. He also said that each time his lawyer asks questions about it or asked for information ahead of his charges, they were rebuffed. Instead, he was handed a slate of charges and told he had a weekend to decide whether he was pleading guilty or they told him they would indict his wife.