IRS to investigate after Comey, McCabe ‘targeted’ by audits

Two former FBI officials were both targeted by an extremely rare and intensive audit process

John Bowden
Thursday 07 July 2022 21:50 BST
James Comey: Trump administration 'defamed' me and FBI with 'lies'

The IRS commissioner asked the Treasury Department’s Inspector General to investigate the audits of two former FBI officials to determine if they were targeted for political reasons on Thursday.

The move comes after a New York Times report revealed on Wednesday that former FBI Director James Comey and ex-deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe both faced an extremely rare and intensive form of IRS audit that is only carried out on a few thousand people — at random — every year. The inclusion of both men in the audits, after they left office and became very public enemies of Donald Trump, raised immediate concerns from experts regarding whether it was a coincidence that both were audited.

The Associated Press first reported news of the inspector general investigation on Thursday.

Mr McCabe addressed the news of his audit just a day earlier on CNN.

“There was no penalties, there was no fines or anything like that, it was really pretty minimal thing in the end,” he told the news network. “But it’s nerve-wracking, you know, it’s really, it’s really, kind of, you’s scary, really, to be...targeted like that.”

His comments echoed those of Mr Comey’s to The New York Times a day earlier. Neither ex-official had knowledge that the other was being audited before being contacted by the Times.

“I don’t know whether anything improper happened, but after learning how unusual this audit was and how badly Trump wanted to hurt me during that time, it made sense to try to figure it out,” Mr Comey said on Wednesday.

“Maybe it’s a coincidence or maybe somebody misused the IRS to get at a political enemy. Given the role Trump wants to continue to play in our country, we should know the answer to that question,” he added.

Despite the fact that neither man faced any actual consequences (other than time lost and money spent dealing with the audit process), experts including a former IRS commissioner agreed that the timing of the audits was highly suspect.

Michael Rettig, IRS commissioner since his appointment by Donald Trump in 2018, denied any personal involvement in the audit process in a statement to the Times when contacted about the story.

The IRS has faced accusations of political weaponisation in the past, particularly during the Obama adminsitration when it used "heightened scrutiny and inordinate delays" against conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status, the agency later said in 2017.

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