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Inspector General Asked to Investigate McCabe and Comey Audits

The I.R.S. said on Thursday that its commissioner, Charles P. Rettig, had asked the inspector general who oversees tax matters to investigate how James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, and his deputy, Andrew G. McCabe — both perceived enemies of former President Trump — came to be faced with rare, exhaustive audits that the agency says are supposed to be random, the New York Times reports. The I.R.S. has referred the matter to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration for review,” the agency said in a written statement, adding that Rettig had “personally reached out” to the inspector general’s office after learning about the audits. The disclosure from the I.R.S. came a day after The New York Times reported that Comey and McCabe had been the subjects of audits that target just several thousand Americans a year and are highly invasive.


In response to the story, Democrats also called for an inspector general’s investigation. They raised questions about whether Trump — who has a long history of trying to use the federal government for his political means — had played a role in ordering the audits. Both audits were conducted during a time when Rettig, who was appointed by Trump in 2018 to a term that is scheduled to expire in November, was running the agency. Under federal law, it is illegal for any official or employee in the executive branch — with a few narrow exceptions — to ask for the I.R.S. to audit or conduct an investigation of someone’s taxes. If an I.R.S. employee learns of such a request, the employee is required to report it to the inspector general. Defendants found to have violated the law can face up to five years in prison. In 2017, the tax year Comey was audited for, the I.R.S. says it randomly selected about 5,000 returns for the audit out of the 153 million people who filed them. For 2019, the year McCabe was audited for, the agency says its picked about 8,000 returns of the roughly 154 million that were filed. It is not clear how two close associates both came to be scrutinized under the same audit program in a matter of a few years.