Watchdog: No Misconduct In Selection Of Comey, McCabe For Tax Audits By IRS Under Trump Appointee
Authored by Tom Ozimek via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
A government watchdog has found no misconduct in IRS tax audits of former FBI Director James Comey and former acting and deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, putting to rest speculation that former President Donald Trump had pulled strings at the agency to target his political foes.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said in a report (pdf) released on Dec. 1 that it had found no evidence that the IRS was in any way manipulated to pick Comey and McCabe for the audits.
The watchdog’s review came at the request of members of Congress and former IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig, a Trump appointee who headed the tax agency at a time when Trump frequently criticized Comey and McCabe for their roles in a probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election that later morphed into the so-called “Russian collusion” investigation that Trump and his team denounced as a “witch hunt” meant to hurt him politically.
Neither Comey nor McCabe could be reached for comment on the watchdog’s findings.
Tax Audits Carried Out ‘Randomly’
The Inspector General’s report found that the audit selection process that saw Comey and McCabe face National Research Program (NRP) audits from the IRS was both random and carried out properly.
“Our assessment of the original sample selection process concluded that the IRS randomly selected TYs [tax years] 2017 and 2019 tax returns for NRP audits,” the report found.
The report also found that the IRS computer programs used to pick people for audits “categorized returns in the correct strata” and “correctly selected tax returns for audit.” The programs also “did not include malicious code that would force the selection of taxpayers” for an audit, the watchdog said.
While the report found no misconduct in the way Comey and McCabe were picked for the audits, it did note some general IRS shortcomings in the way the agency’s computer systems generate random selections, while noting that the watchdog is doing more work to scrutinize that process more deeply.
‘Maybe It’s a Coincidence’
Both Comey and McCabe in the past suggested they should not have been audited and questioned whether they were properly selected for tax-related scrutiny.
“Maybe it’s a coincidence or maybe somebody misused the I.R.S. 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,” Comey told the New York Times earlier this year.
“I think they handled the business OK, the person I dealt with was fine, but the question remains, how was I selected for this?” McCabe told CNN in an interview at the time.
An IRS spokesperson told The Epoch Times in July that there are guardrails in place to prevent the agency from being misused for political ends.
“Audits are handled by career civil servants, and the IRS has strong safeguards in place to protect the exam process—and against politically motivated audits. It’s ludicrous and untrue to suggest that senior IRS officials somehow targeted specific individuals for National Research Program audits,” the spokesperson said.
Trump told the New York Times through a spokesperson at the time, “I have no knowledge of this.”
The New York Times speculated in its report that strings may have been improperly pulled around the audits, claiming there were “minuscule chances” that Comey and McCabe would be picked at random and that their selection poses “extraordinary questions.”
The watchdog’s report appears to put those questions to rest.
“The credibility and integrity of the IRS are foundational to the success of our tax administration, and this report alleviates some concerns,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) said in a statement to The Hill. remove
Comey, an Obama appointee, was fired by then-President Trump in May 2017 at the recommendation of the attorney general and deputy attorney general. The officials said Comey was “not able to effectively lead the bureau.”
McCabe, who succeeded Comey, was fired the following year by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a Trump appointee, at the recommendation of the FBI because he lied to the bureau about allowing information to be leaked to a reporter.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.