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James Comey, Andrew McCabe, of the FBI, was scrutinized by the IRS after angering Trump

Democrats and Republicans in Congress on Thursday expressed concern that the IRS under President Donald Trump may have targeted two of his political enemies with tax audits, and united in rare unity to call for an investigation into the matter.

The requests came a day after reports that the IRS was conducting detailed reviews of the tax records of James B. Comey, the former FBI director, and Andrew McCabe, a deputy who later took over the agency. The two then-officials had been prime targets of Trump’s wrath after investigating the president in connection with his 2016 campaign, prompting Comey this week to raise the possibility that the newly uncovered audits represented political payback.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement that “a thorough investigation of this matter is vital” – adding that his panel will “consider what steps” it will take itself can do .

“Donald Trump has no respect for the rule of law, so if he tried to subject his political enemies to additional scrutiny by the IRS, it would come as no surprise to anyone. We need to understand what happened here because it raises serious concerns,” Wyden said.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.), the top Republican on the tax-leaning House Ways and Means Committee, said in a separate statement he would support the “investigation of all allegations of political targeting.” Brady, however, pointed to assurances from Trump-appointed IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, who said he had no communications with Trump, and the GOP congressman also launched a political broadside against the agency for allegedly attacking conservatives under President Barack Obama would have.

Trump, meanwhile, said in a statement: “I am not aware of this.” Instead, he highlighted an earlier report by a federal inspector general that had criticized Comey and McCabe, adding: “[T]Tell us what you think after reading it.”

The bipartisan political backlash nonetheless reflected the seriousness of the allegations and the long-simmering distrust of the IRS on Capitol Hill. For some, the news even raised the specter of the disgraced Nixon administration, when the president used the IRS – and its vast powers to probe Americans’ finances – to go after his political enemies before being forced to resign became.

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An investigation into the matter would be conducted by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), who usually initiates investigations at the request of the legislature. Wyden said Rettig told him in an interview that “any allegation of misconduct will be taken seriously and will be referred to the court [inspector general] for further review.” A senior government official familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss it, said Rettig had referred the matter to TIGTA. A spokesman for TIGTA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The IRS, meanwhile, stressed in a statement that Rettig is “not personally involved in individual audits or taxpayer cases,” which are instead handled by “career officials.”

“As an IRS commissioner, he has never had contact with the White House — in either administration — regarding IRS enforcement or individual taxpayer matters,” the agency said. “He is committed to conducting the IRS from top to bottom in an impartial and unbiased manner.”

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For years, Trump has publicly attacked Comey and McCabe, calling for charges against them and accusing them of conducting a politically motivated witch hunt against him. While both men were investigated and at times criticized for their behavior, neither was charged with a crime.

The types of IRS audits they have experienced are designed to be infrequent and random. The likelihood that two people so loathed by the former president would face scrutiny within a few years raised Comey’s concerns about possible political abuse of the IRS’s authority.

“I don’t know if anything inappropriate happened, but after learning how unusual this exam was and how badly Trump wanted to hurt me during this time, it made sense to try to find out,” Comey said in a statement. “Maybe it’s a coincidence or maybe someone used the IRS to get at a political enemy. Given the role Trump wants to continue playing in our country, we should know the answer to that question.”

McCabe’s attorney confirmed that he was also under investigation.

The New York Times, which first reported on the audits, said Comey’s audit began in 2019 and focused on his 2017 tax return, the year he signed a seven-figure book deal. McCabe’s audit began in 2021 and focused on his 2019 tax return, the Times said.

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The McCabe audit was launched months into the Biden administration.

Ever since politically motivated abuses in the Nixon administration, the IRS has prided itself on systems designed to keep political or personal motives out of the agency’s tax audit process. When asked for comment on Comey and McCabe’s audits, the IRS said in a statement that privacy laws prevent it from discussing specific taxpayers.

“Audits are conducted by career officials, and the IRS has strong safeguards in place to protect the audit process — and against politically motivated audits,” the statement said. “It is ridiculous and untrue to suggest that senior IRS officials have targeted specific individuals for National Research Program audits.”

Lisa Rein and Jeff Stein contributed to this report.