The Internal Revenue Service building, Washington DC.
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The other whistleblower controversy is far from over

Updated

For much of the political world, the word “whistleblower” immediately calls to mind the official from the U.S. intelligence community who helped shine a light on Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal. There is, however, another whistleblower whose story remains very much alive.

The Washington Post reported yesterday afternoon:

Two senators are looking into a whistleblower’s allegations that at least one political appointee at the Treasury Department may have tried to interfere with an audit of President Trump or Vice President Pence, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, a sign that lawmakers are moving to investigate the complaint lodged by a senior staffer at the Internal Revenue Service.

Staff members for Sens. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (Ore.), the chairman and ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, met with the IRS whistleblower earlier this month, those people said. Follow-up interviews are expected to further explore the whistleblower’s allegations.

This isn’t a story that’s generated a lot of attention, at least not yet, but as we recently discussed, it has quite a bit of potential.

The Internal Revenue Service is responsible for conducting an annual audit of the president’s tax returns – a post-Watergate reform that’s applied to every modern president – which ordinarily wouldn’t be especially notable.

But as Rachel has explained on the show, according to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.), an anonymous whistleblower over the summer offered credible allegations of “evidence of possible misconduct,” specifically “inappropriate efforts to influence” the audit of Trump’s materials.

And it now appears the top two members of the Senate Finance Committee – one Democrat, one Republican – have taken an interest in the matter, including arranging a meeting between the senators’ aides and the whistleblower in private.

To be sure, there’s a lot about this we don’t know, and it’s tough to gauge the validity of the accusations without more information. All kinds of key details – the nature of the complaint, who allegedly acted inappropriately, how the whistleblower came to learn of the alleged misconduct, his or her possible motivations, etc. – aren’t yet available to the public.

Maybe something will come of this, maybe not. Either way, it’d be good to find out.

Update: The House Ways & Means Committee is also weighing whether to depose the IRS whistleblower, and according to a CNN report, there are “ongoing discussions about whether to bring that individual in for an interview in an executive session of the committee.”

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