Have you got a case of whistleblower complaint fatigue? If so, this story might not be for you.
While President Donald Trump currently has his hands–and the Department of Justice–full with allegations of impropriety vis-à-vis the Ukraine-phone-call-whistleblower-complaint-cover-up scandal, there is reportedly another whistleblower and concomitant complaint waiting for the 45th president in the wings.
A little-noticed court filing from August contains a shocking allegation made by a disgruntled Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employee: that President Trump attempted to interfere with some aspect of the agency’s mandatory presidential audit system.
That court filing includes a letter authored by House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) which is addressed to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and describes the situation thusly:
On July 29, 2019, the Committee received an unsolicited communication from a Federal employee setting forth credible allegations of “evidence of possible misconduct”-specifically, potential “inappropriate efforts to influence” the mandatory audit program.
House Democrats were apparently already worried about such an improper use of presidential power in the abstract.
“This is a grave charge that appreciably heightens the Committee’s concerns about the absence of appropriate safeguards as part of the mandatory audit program and whether statutory codification of such program or other remedial, legislative measures are warranted,” the letter continues.
Beyond general concerns, however, Democrats now claim to have some undisclosed–but specific–information supporting that belief. And they seem to think the Trump Administration is lying about it.
The Neal-Mnuchin letter continues:
The Committee has raised these concerns repeatedly, both in prior correspondence as well as at the June 10 briefing with staff from both Treasury and the IRS. Commissioner [Charles] Rettig, in his May 17, 2019 letter, responded that the “concern that IRS employees could be subject to undue influence when conducting mandatory audits of a President’s tax returns” is “unfounded.” The allegations received by the Committee cast doubt on this statement and underscore the pressing need for complete and meaningful oversight of the mandatory audit program.
As a result of that IRS whistleblower complaint, Neal requested “a rolling production of documents and communications of specified Treasury and IRS employees.”
Mnuchin was sent the letter on August 8 and given a deadline of August 13 to reply–which he did. In his response, Mnuchin declined to cooperate with Neal’s request and said he referred the matter to the Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).
Neal and others on the Ways and Means Committee have remained tight-lipped about the allegations and the person who made them in public–but offered to provide extensive details to Trump-appointed Judge Trevor McFadden, who is overseeing the House’s lawsuit over the 45th president’s ever elusive tax returns.
A donor to President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and transition volunteer, McFadden reacted to the whistleblower allegations with a distinctly judicial nonchalance–he’s so far declined to take the Democrats up on their offer, according to HuffPost.
Law&Crime reached out to Treasury Department Inspector General Eric Thorson via email for comment on this story but no response was forthcoming at the time of publication. Attempts to elicit information about this story from Rep. Neal’s press team were similarly unsuccessful.
[image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]