The Internal Revenue Service selected former FBI Director James Comey and his deputy, Andrew McCabe, for very rare, purportedly random audits of their 2017 and 2019 tax returns, The New York Times reports. "The odds of being selected for that audit in any given year are tiny — out of nearly 153 million individual returns filed for 2017, for example, the IRS targeted about 5,000, or roughly one out of 30,600."
Former President Donald Trump controversially sacked Comey and McCabe and has continued verbally attacked them ever since. The two career FBI officials were informed they had been selected for the extremely invasive National Research Program audits — known wryly among tax lawyers as "an autopsy without the benefit of death," the Times reports — in 2019 and early 2021, respectively, when the IRS was led by Trump's handpicked commissioner, Charles Rettig.
"The minuscule chances of the two highest-ranking FBI officials — who made some of the most politically consequential law enforcement decisions in a generation — being randomly subjected to a detailed scrub of their tax returns a few years after leaving their posts presents extraordinary questions," the Times reports. The biggest question is whether someone in the federal government or IRS somehow manipulated the process to target Trump's perceived enemies.
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Comey and McCabe, who did not know each other had been audited until the Times told them, both said they have questions about why they were selected. The IRS said Rettig "is not involved in individual audits or taxpayer cases," and Trump told the Times he has "no knowledge of this" then criticized Comey and McCabe.
"Lightning strikes, and that's unusual, and that's what it's like being picked for one of these audits," former IRS commissioner John Koskinen tells the Times. "The question is: Does lightning then strike again in the same area? Does it happen? Some people may see that in their lives, but most will not — so you don't need to be an anti-Trumper to look at this and think it's suspicious." Read more at The New York Times.
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