Report: Treasury Official May Have Tried To Interfere In Trump, Pence IRS Audit
At least one political appointee at the Treasury Department might have tried to interfere with the annual audit of either the president or vice president’s tax returns, according to an Internal Revenue Service whistleblower report.
The Washington Post reported on Thursday that the Trump administration considered the complaint flimsy, as it was based on second hand information the IRS official obtained through conversations with other government officials.
But now that the complaint is circulating on Capitol Hill, Democrats are alarmed and have passed it on to a federal judge, The Post said.
The annual audit of the president and vice president’s tax returns “is supposed to be walled off from political appointees and interference,” and Democrats are looking into the matter.
Though the IRS whistleblower complaint was reported previously and was revealed months ago in court filings, the fact that the whistleblower is an IRS official is new information, along with the fact that “the complaint pertained to allegations of interference in the audit process by at least one Treasury Department official.”
In an interview this week with The Post, the whistleblower confirmed that he “filed a formal complaint and sent it to the tax committee chairs in both houses of Congress, including Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), and to the Treasury Department Inspector General for Tax Administration on July 29.”
The individual denied allegations that his actions are politically motivated, telling The Post: “Anyone who knows me knows I would not hesitate to do the same, as would most career IRS public servants, regardless of any political preference. I take very seriously the duty of career civil servants to act with integrity and perform our duties impartially, even at the risk that someone will make a charge of bias.”
Legal experts and former IRS officials told the newspaper that it is highly unusual for political appointees at the Treasury Department to inquire of IRS staff about the status of an audit.
“Nobody at the Treasury Department should be calling to find out the status of anybody’s audit,” John Koskinen, who served as IRS commissioner under both Trump and President Barack Obama, told The Post. “For a Treasury official to call a career person — even just for information — seems to me highly inappropriate, even if it’s just checking in on how it’s going.”