Republicans claimed that if they weren’t given control of Congress in 2022, a Democratic majority would weaponize the IRS, adding thousands of new agents and targeting political enemies — but John Kelly, the former president’s one-time Chief of Staff, says that actually, Donald Trump was the one who tried to do that.
There may be a point at which “every accusation is actually a confession” stops being relevant to Trumpism, but it hasn’t come yet.
The refrain of “87k new IRS agents” who are supposed to punitively audit people for their political views has been disproven repeatedly, but that’s not stopping GOP operatives from repeating it — while the true story reveals a different perpetrator.
John Kelly, Trump’s White House Chief of Staff for a year-and-a-half in the middle of his single presidential term, says that his former boss tried to do exactly that — use the IRS to target individuals he saw as political enemies. In fact, it seems that audits of some top-level officials involved in investigating Trump’s Russian connections in his 2016 campaign may be no coincidence.
According to Kelly, Trump wanted to have former FBI Director James Comey — who even wrote a book about Trump’s demands for “loyalty” — and his top deputy, Andrew McCabe, targeted by the IRS. Both were, in fact, selected for a “rare and highly intrusive” audit, though Trump and IRS officials have denied any connection.
“After Mr. Kelly left the administration, Mr. Comey was informed in 2019 that his 2017 returns were being audited, and Mr. McCabe learned in 2021 that his 2019 returns were being audited. At the time both audits occurred, the I.R.S. was led by a Trump political appointee.”
Comey has responded to the news with a quip about his new series of crime novels, declaring that they, too, will contain evil politicians.
My new crime novel “Central Park West” (May 30 release) is not about an evil president who fires the FBI Director for seeking a dangerous truth and then tries to use the IRS and DOJ to destroy him. But there will be evil politicians. https://t.co/IlqFoM4S3s
— James Comey (@Comey) November 14, 2022
This revelation breaks after months of the GOP insisting that Democrats have a plan to hire 87k new IRS agents, even as fact checks like this one in Time repeatedly debunk the lie:
“A Treasury Department report from May 2021 estimated that such an investment would enable the agency to hire roughly 87,000 employees by 2031. But most of those hires would not be Internal Revenue agents, and wouldn’t be new positions.”
One is forced to wonder why the members of the GOP are so worried about enabling the IRS to do its job. They wouldn’t have anything to hide, would they
Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.