IRS Whistleblower Case Advances As Senate Staff Looks At Whether Political Appointee Meddled With Audit Of Trump Or Pence

In Conflict of Interest, Taxes On

Two senators are looking into a whistleblower’s allegations that at least one political appointee at the Treasury Department may have tried to interfere with an audit of President Trump or Vice President Pence, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, a sign that lawmakers are moving to investigate the complaint lodged by a senior staffer at the Internal Revenue Service.

Staff members for Sens. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (Ore.), the chairman and ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, met with the IRS whistleblower earlier this month, those people said. Follow-up interviews are expected to further explore the whistleblower’s allegations.

It could not be learned to what extent the senators consider the whistleblower a credible source. Trump administration officials have previously played down the complaint’s significance and suggested that it is politically motivated.

The whistleblower, a career IRS official, initially filed a complaint in July, reporting that he was told that at least one Treasury political appointee attempted to improperly interfere with the annual audit of the president’s or vice president’s tax returns. In recent weeks, the whistleblower filed additional documentation related to the original complaint, which was given to congressional officials in July, the two people said. These people spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the complaint, which pertains to a confidential IRS audit that cannot be disclosed under federal law.

The contents of the additional information provided by the whistleblower were not known.

The IRS whistleblower complaint was first disclosed in an August court filing by Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. It raises the prospect that Trump administration officials at Treasury tried to improperly interfere with the IRS audit process. That process is supposed to be walled off from political interference.

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