House, Senate to grill IRS chief over audit of Trump’s enemies

Top lawmakers are preparing to question IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig privately in the coming days over reports that the tax agency may have targeted two of President Donald Trump’s political enemies with extensive and rare audits.

The moves by the Capitol’s key tax-focused panels — the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee — come amid growing concerns that the IRS improperly subjected James B. Comey, the former director of the FBI, and Andrew McCabe, his top deputy, to unusual scrutiny after they led investigations into Trump and his 2016 campaign.

The two bipartisan sessions are set to be held behind closed doors, according to two people familiar with the matter, who confirmed the meetings on the condition of anonymity given the legal sensitivity.

 The privacy is necessary because the IRS is limited by law from publicly disclosing information about specific taxpayers, the sources said.

The House plans to hold its gathering this week, while the Senate is expected to question Rettig in the coming weeks.

 The IRS said in a statement that Rettig “always welcomes a chance to meet with members on tax issues and routinely flags areas of potential concern for key leaders of congressional oversight committees.”

The two panels’ leaders — Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) — previously have called on the inspector general overseeing the IRS to open its own probe. 

Rettig similarly has referred the matter to his agency’s watchdog, while his spokespeople have maintained that the IRS commissioner was not aware of any political interference and had no conversations about it with Trump, who first appointed him to the post in 2018.

“He has been committed to running the IRS in an impartial, unbiased manner from top to bottom,” IRS spokeswoman Jodie Reynolds said last week.

Wyden, meanwhile, said in an interview this weekend that his panel is “going to have our own inquiry,” adding: “We’re going to do what it takes to get to the bottom of this.”

“These are very troubling matters, and that’s part of our essential oversight function.”