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Comey, MCabe Audit: IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig to Testify

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Top lawmakers are preparing to privately question IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig in the coming days over reports that the IRS may have targeted two of President Donald Trump’s political enemies with extensive and rare audits.

The move by the Capitol’s major tax-focused panels — the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee — comes amid growing concerns that the IRS’s James B. Comey, the former director of the FBI, and Andrew McCabe, are leading the way. deputy, to unusual scrutiny after they led investigations into Trump and his 2016 campaign.

The two bipartisan sessions will take place behind closed doors, according to two people familiar with the matter, who confirmed the meetings on condition of anonymity given the legal sensitivity. The privacy is necessary because the IRS is legally restricted from disclosing information about specific taxpayers, the sources said.

The House plans to hold its meeting this week, while the Senate is expected to question Rettig in the coming weeks. The IRS said in a statement that Rettig “always welcomes an opportunity to meet with members on tax issues and routinely highlights areas of potential concern for key congressional oversight committee leaders.”

IRS chief faces questions about audits of Trump enemies

The leaders of the two panels – Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) — have previously called on the Inspector General who oversees the IRS to open his own investigation. Rettig similarly referred the matter to his agency’s watchdog, while his spokespersons have maintained that the IRS commissioner was unaware of any political interference and had no discussions about it with Trump, who first put him on the hook. post appointed in 2018.

“He is committed to leading the IRS in an impartial, unbiased manner from top to bottom,” IRS spokeswoman Jodie Reynolds said last week.

Wyden, meanwhile, said in an interview this weekend that his panel “will have our own investigation,” adding, “We’re going to do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of this.”

“These are very troubling matters, and that is part of our vital oversight function.”

In a letter last week, Neal described the allegations as “alarming,” and urged the IRS watchdog — the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, known as TIGTA — to determine whether Rettig or other top personnel had inside information that the agency Comey and McCabe to extensive tax audits.

Those audits, conducted under an initiative known as the National Research Program, are meticulous and rare. Each year, about 15,000 taxpayers are randomly chosen for assessment, a fact that worried some lawmakers and former IRS officials to learn that Comey and McCabe were both chosen from millions of Americans within a few years of each other.

By firing his enemies, Trump made their taxes more interesting to the IRS

In recent days, Comey has questioned the potential for political motivations, given his role in the Trump investigation, his 2016 campaign and allegations that the president obstructed justice.

“Maybe it’s just coincidence or someone misused the IRS to get hold of a political enemy. Given the role Trump intends to continue to play in our country, we should know the answer to that question,” he said in an earlier statement.

Trump had regularly attacked the former FBI director and his top deputy, McCabe, although the former president insists he “knows nothing about this”. In a statement, Trump nevertheless pointed to an earlier report by a Justice Department inspector general criticizing the two men.

The developments have increased the pressure on Rettig, whose term ends later this year. Some Democrats have called for him to step down in recent days. For its part, the White House has repeatedly declined to say whether Biden would reappoint Rettig — or even whether the president has confidence in the IRS commissioner.

“I’m going to say it’s his turn in November,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters last week. “He is a commissioner. … He is the commissioner of the IRS, part of the administration. So let’s go — I’ll just leave it at that.”

Congress seeks IRS investigation amid suspicions audits targeted Trump enemies

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