Leading Democrats in Congress expressed their outrage at recent news that former FBI Director James Comey and FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, both noted antagonists of Donald Trump, were subjected to intense IRS audits during his administration.
The former FBI officials were selected for National Research Programs that affect only 5,000 taxpayers out of 153 million annually, according to the New York Times.
“If you think the audit of Donald Trump’s purported enemies was a random act of God then I have a bridge in North Jersey I’d like to sell you,” Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell, chairman of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on oversight, said in a statement Thursday.
“There may be no group on the face of this earth that deserves the benefit of the doubt less than Donald Trump and his government enablers,” he added, before calling on President Biden to fire IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, whom Trump selected for the role in 2018.
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, called on the IRS inspector general to launch an investigation of the incident.
“Donald Trump has no respect for the rule of law, so if he tried to subject his political enemies to additional IRS scrutiny that would surprise no one,” Wyden said in a statement to MarketWatch. “We need to understand what happened here because it raises serious concerns. Commissioner Rettig reached out to me to reiterate that any allegations of wrongdoing are taken seriously and are referred to the IG for further review.”
The White House has so far stayed out of the controversy, with White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declining to comment on the matter other than to point out that Rettig’s term as commissioner expires in November.
The IRS has pushed back against allegations that the audits were politically motivated.
“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,” an IRS spokesperson said in a statement to MarketWatch. “It’s ludicrous and untrue to suggest that senior IRS officials somehow targeted specific individuals for National Research Program audits.”