Two FBI directors fired by Trump face ‘invasive type of random audit’ by IRS

Two former FBI directors fired under the Trump administration both reportedly faced an “invasive type of random audit” by the IRS.

A new report by The New York Times reveals that former FBI Director James Comey and former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe – and their spouses, due to filing joint returns – were both selected for the same random tax audit by the Internal Revenue Service, something the Times noted as an extraordinary coincidence.

Comey was fired as FBI director in 2017 by then-President Donald J. Trump. He was informed two years later that his tax return for that year would be audited. The IRS “picked about 8,000 returns for the same type of audit Mr. Comey had undergone from the 154 million individual returns filed in 2019, or about one in 19,250,” the newspaper reported.

McCabe, who served as acting director after Comey’s firing before being dismissed in 2018, was chosen by the IRS for the same random audit for his 2019 taxes.

“Neither man knew that the other had been audited until they were told by a reporter for The Times,” the newspaper reported.

Both men “provided the letters initiating their audits to The New York Times. Mr. Comey provided The Times with a privacy release allowing the I.R.S. to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request about his case,” the Times noted.

“Your federal income tax return for the year shown above was selected at random for a compliance research examination,” the letters read. “We must examine randomly selected tax returns to better understand tax compliance and improve fairness of the tax system. We’ll give you the opportunity to explain any errors we may find during the examination.”

The Times report focused on the “minuscule” odds of the audits.

“The minuscule chances of the two highest-ranking F.B.I. officials — who made some of the most politically consequential law enforcement decisions in a generation — being randomly subjected to a detailed scrub of their tax returns a few years after leaving their posts presents extraordinary questions,” the report continued.

“How taxpayers get selected for the program of intensive audits — known as the National Research Program — is closely held. The I.R.S. is prohibited by law from discussing specific cases, further walling off from scrutiny the type of audit Mr. Comey and Mr. McCabe faced,” the Times reported.

The IRS commissioner, Charles P. Rettig, declined an interview about the topic with the Times but a statement by the agency asserted he played no part in Comey and McCabe’s selection for the random audits.

“Commissioner Rettig is not involved in individual audits or taxpayer cases; those are handled by career civil servants,” the statement read. “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.”

For his part, Trump – who was no longer in office when McCabe’s audit came up – denied any involvement.

“I have no knowledge of this,” the former president said through a spokesperson.

Despite the fact that Trump railed against both former FBI directors and wanted them prosecuted for their part in the Russia collusion allegations against him, the Times reported that former IRS officials and tax lawyers “believed it would be difficult for a president or an appointee to direct an audit at a political opponent.”

“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,” Comey said in a statement. “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.”

After a year under review, the audit reportedly found that the Comeys had “overpaid their 2017 federal income taxes. They received a $347 refund.”

McCabe said he had “significant questions about how or why I was selected for this.”

He posed questions about the “coincidence” in remarks to CNN host Laura Coates.

“The coincidence of the two former top officials in the FBI, both of whom were very clearly considered to be enemies by the former president and his supporters, both being subjected to this incredibly invasive process that supposedly random, was it actually random?” McCabe, now a CNN contributor, asked. “I’d like to hear the answer to that question.”

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