The head of the IRS asked a Treasury inspector general to investigate after news broke Wednesday that the agency conducted intensive audits into former FBI Director James Comey and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s taxes.
“The IRS has referred the matter to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration for review. IRS Commissioner [Charles] Rettig personally reached out to TIGTA after receiving a press inquiry,” IRS spokesperson Jodie Reynolds said in a statement to The Hill Thursday.
Reynolds also reiterated a previous statement the IRS gave Wednesday.
“IRS has strong safeguards in place to protect the exam process – and against politically motivated audits.” The agency also pushed back against the idea that Comey or McCabe were “targeted” by senior officials of the agency.
Speaking to CNN following the IRS’s announcement on Thursday, McCabe said he believes “referring it to the IG is the right step, but let’s see if the IG moves on it and then makes their findings public.”
Comey was also contacted by CNN for comment.
Comey and McCabe garnered national attention after their involvement in a probe into the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election, which the former president has derided as a witch hunt.
The two were also frequent targets of former President Trump’s criticism; Comey was fired by Trump in 2017, and McCabe, who next served as the acting director of the FBI, was fired by the administration the next year.
The New York Times reported on Wednesday that both men were selected for audits of specific tax returns and published letters that each had received.
Comey was given a refund of $347 after an audit of his 2017 tax return while McCabe owed a small sum of money following an audit of his 2019 tax return.
“There was no penalties, there was no fines or anything like that. It was really pretty minimal thing in the end. But it’s nerve-wracking, you know, it’s really, it’s really, kind of, you know — it’s scary, really, to be … targeted like that,” McCabe said in an interview with CNN late Wednesday.
“I don’t know what happened here. And like I said, I think they handled the business OK, you know, the person I dealt with was fine, but the question remains, how was I selected for this?” he asked.
Lawmakers are raising questions about why both men were targeted for intensive tax audits by the IRS, and members of both parties are calling for an investigation into the matter.
“A thorough IG investigation of this matter is crucial, and we’re going to look at what steps the Finance Committee could potentially take,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said in a statement to The Hill.
The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), also said he supported an investigation by the Treasury inspector general.
Updated 4:29 p.m.