Former FBI Leaders — Both Targets of Trump's Criticism — Faced 'Rigorous' IRS Audits: 'Maybe It's Coincidence'

Former FBI director James Comey speculated a political misuse of the IRS by Trump, but the agency fiercely denies the accusation

Donald Trump, James Comey
Photo: Olivier Douliery - Pool/Getty; William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty

Former FBI director James Comey and his top deputy, Andy McCabe, have both faced auditing by the IRS in recent years, an occurrence that Comey speculates was not random given former President Donald Trump's vocal criticism of the two men.

After Comey was fired by Trump in 2017, an already underway investigation into the former president was only intensified. Following Comey's firing, McCabe temporarily stepped into his former boss's role at the FBI for a few months, and it was during this time that the bureau began investigating Trump for obstruction of justice.

Trump was vocal during this time about his distrust for the two men, often taking to social media to demand they be charged for what he considered to be personally motivated attacks against him.

As such, Comey's eyebrows raised at two former FBI leaders both being chosen at random within such a short period of time to be audited.

"I don't know whether anything improper happened, but after learning how unusual this audit was and how badly Trump wanted to hurt me during that time, it made sense to try to figure it out," said Comey.

He continued, "Maybe it's a coincidence or maybe somebody misused the I.R.S. to get at a political enemy. Given the role Trump wants to continue to play in our country, we should know the answer to that question."

According to The New York Times, which first reported the news, Comey's audit began in 2019 and focused on his 2017 tax return. McCabe's audit began in 2021, nine months after Trump left office, and focused on his tax return for 2019. Both were launched by the agency run by Trump-appointed commissioner Charles Rettig.

Andrew McCabe
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Although Comey speculated the political misuse of the IRS, the agency later responded in a statement that fiercely denied these accusations.

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"Audits are handled by career civil servants, and the IRS has strong safeguards in place to protect the exam process — and against politically motivated audits," the statement said. "It's ludicrous and untrue to suggest that senior IRS officials somehow targeted specific individuals for National Research Program audits."

Ultimately, Comey and his wife were found to have overpaid their federal income tax and were refunded $347.

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