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As Per An Opinion, the Comey and McCabe IRS Audits Are a Red Flag That Has a Lengthy History

The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the Trump administration orchestrated the thorough and comprehensive tax audits of former FBI Director James Comey and his deputy Andrew McCabe.

However, this cannot yet be said with certainty. The likelihood that the two individuals, who were frequently mocked by then-President Donald Trump on Twitter and at rallies, would have been chosen for the uncommon audits is extremely slim, but as the Times has remarked, “minuscule does not mean zero.”

Individual audits and taxpayer cases are handled by career civil servants, according to the IRS, which also claimed that IRS commissioner Charles Rettig “has never been in communication with the White House — in any administration — on IRS enforcement or individual taxpayer problems.”

The two guys near the top of the vengeful president’s long list of foes may therefore have been chosen at random, in theory.

However, many people would not be surprised if it turned out that the former president had a hand in the audits.

This is because presidents have long used the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and other strong agencies to target their political rivals, and not just because Trump enjoys criticizing his opponents.

This past does not absolve Trump; rather, it serves as a reminder that these institutions are still susceptible to manipulation by dishonest individuals.

And considering the extensive right-wing efforts to destroy the administrative state, that is a particularly alarming problem right now.

People who are worried about these initiatives—which range from Supreme Court rulings that severely limit the authority of organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency to budget cuts at organizations like the IRS—need to push for reforms, such as tighter controls on political interference and increased oversight from non-partisan watchdogs, to defend and legitimize these organizations that enable the federal government to operate.

The administrative state is powered by institutions like the IRS. They are the places where policy is put into action: in the way tax laws are carried out, environmental laws are upheld, and trade policy is carried out.

As a result, they have been a desirable target for anti-government activists and politicians, who have long combined strong anti-government rhetoric with actions to dismantle, defund, or delegitimize those groups.


But presidents and executive appointees of all political persuasions have also been drawn in by what they perceived as the potential of these bodies to further personal and political goals.

In particular, the IRS has been like this. After several scandals involving dishonest employees in the 1940s and early 1950s, the IRS underwent significant changes, including changing its name from the Bureau of Internal Revenue to the Internal Revenue Service to stress the organization’s dedication to the general public.

But even as it underwent that reform, J. Edgar Hoover, the longstanding director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had made the IRS a crucial weapon (FBI). As part of its surveillance of domestic activists, the FBI specifically targeted leaders of the civil rights movement and relied on IRS records.

The agency served political objectives for presidents and their administrations as well. Labour leaders Victor and Walter Reuther sent a paper to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy during the Kennedy administration outlining how to use administrative agencies like the IRS, FBI, and Federal Communications Commission to combat “the growing strength of the radical right.”

This prompted the development of the Ideological Organizations Project, which went after right-wing organizations and questioned their eligibility for tax-exempt status.

The concept of weaponizing the IRS was thus already entrenched by the time President Richard Nixon assumed office. He came up with the idea of using the agency to hunt down his personal adversaries, which is consistent with the Comey and McCabe audits.

White House Counsel John Dean stated during investigations into administration malfeasance that the IRS had been given Nixon’s extensive list of adversaries with the recommendation that the agency looks into their tax returns.

Johnnie Mac Walters, Nixon’s IRS commissioner, declined. However, the agency did refuse tax-exempt status to several liberal organizations; in one of the legal proceedings, the judge determined that the organization had been “singled out for discriminatory treatment for political, ideological and other unlawful grounds.”

We must be aware of the Ideological Organizations Project and Nixon’s enemies list because intent matters in situations like these. Even when made without explicit political intent, IRS judgments can have political repercussions.

The IRS started seeking to have private schools that used racial discrimination lose their tax-exempt status in the 1970s.

This had an impact on religious institutions like Bob Jones University, which claimed that such discrimination was consistent with their worldview. It also served as a significant catalyst for the development of a more vocal religious right.

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Similarly, an IRS procedure change in the 2000s and 2010s increased scrutiny of tax-exempt requests for entities with political names, which for years was misconstrued as part of an Obama administration campaign to target conservative organizations (and President Barack Obama did acknowledge findings of individual singling out of conservative groups as “intolerable” and “inexcusable” failures of oversight and demanded greater accountability as a result).

After hearing of the Comey and McCabe audits, the head of the IRS requested that an inspector general looks into the choice to audit the FBI directors.

That investigation will start the crucial task of determining if the audits had a political motivation.

However, while this process is ongoing, the administration should work to fortify the barriers that currently exist between the White House and federal agencies, with assistance from Congress.

At the same time, it should be made clear that these institutions are essential to the functioning of the nation and that the administration’s larger objective of defending our democratic system depends on their increased transparency, functionality, and morality.

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