Trump fired Comey in 2017, intensifying an investigation into Trump associates that had begun a year earlier. After Comey’s firing, his deputy, Andrew McCabetook over the FBI for several months, during which the bureau opened an investigation into Trump for possible obstruction of justice.
Over the years, Trump has repeatedly attacked the two men publicly, calling for their impeachment and accusing them of perpetuating a politically motivated witch hunt. Although both were investigated and sometimes criticized for their behavior, neither was charged with any crime.
These types of IRS audits are designed to be infrequent and random. The possibility that two people hated by the former president could be audited within a few years raised concerns about the potential for political abuse of the IRS’s power by Comey.
“I don’t know if anything was wrong, but after knowing how extraordinary this audit was and how badly Trump wanted to hurt me at the time, it made sense to try to find out,” Comey said in a statement. “Perhaps it was a coincidence or someone misused the IRS to get a political opponent. As for the role Trump wants to continue to play in our country, we need to know the answer to that question.
McCabe’s attorney confirmed he was also censored.
The New York Times, which First announced audits, Comey’s audit began in 2019, focusing on his tax returns from 2017, the year he signed a seven-figure book deal. McCabe’s audit began in 2021 and focused on his tax returns for 2019, the Times said.
The McCabe audit began months into the Biden administration, but the agency is still run by Trump-appointed Commissioner Charles Reddick.
Since the politically motivated abuses of the Nixon administration, the IRS has prided itself on systems designed to keep political or personal motivations out of the agency’s tax review process.
When asked about the Comey and McCabe audits, the IRS said in a statement that privacy laws prevent it from discussing specific taxpayers.
“Audits are handled by professional civil servants, and the IRS has strong safeguards to protect the examination process — and against politically motivated audits,” the report said. “Claims that senior IRS officials somehow targeted specific individuals for National Research Program audits are ludicrous and false.”
The IRS report also recommended that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration review the matter.
This is a growing story. It will be updated.
Lisa Raine contributed to this report.