A whistleblower has complained that there were “inappropriate efforts to influence" the mandatory Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audit of President Donald Trump's and Vice President Mike Pence's tax returns, the US House Ways and Means chairman Richard Neal has revealed.
In a letter sent to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on 8 August, Neal specifically wrote that a “federal employee” submitted an "unsolicited communication" on 28 July, 2019, in which he mentioned “evidence of possible misconduct” pertaining to Trump’s tax returns.
“This is a grave charge that appreciably heightens the Committee's concerns about the absence of appropriate safeguards as part of the mandatory audit program and whether statutory codification of such program or other remedial, legislative measures are warranted,” Neal noted.
He claimed that the allegations made by the whistleblower were “credible” and that his complaint “underscore[s] the pressing need for complete and meaningful oversight.” The Department of the Treasury has yet to comment on the matter.
Although under US law, the country’s president is not required by law to release their tax returns, every president has voluntarily released their tax returns or a tax summary since 1974, except for Trump.
It remains unclear what prompted Trump to do so, with a New York Times investigation previously claiming that he could be involved in tax schemes, including fraud, during the 1990s.
....you would get it by building, or even buying. You always wanted to show losses for tax purposes....almost all real estate developers did - and often re-negotiate with banks, it was sport. Additionally, the very old information put out is a highly inaccurate Fake News hit job!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2019
Trump reacted to the story by tweeting that the Times' report contained “very old information” and that it was "a highly inaccurate Fake News hit job!”
“You always wanted to show losses for tax purposes. Almost all real estate developers did - and often re-negotiate with banks, it was sport”, he added.
Another Whistleblower Raises Alarm Over Trump’s Ukraine Call, Prompts Impeachment Probe
The latest developments come as Trump currently tries to tackle separate whistleblower complaint which prompted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to announce an impeachment inquiry on 24 September.
The complaint focuses on a July 25 phone call between Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, the transcript of which has been published.
During the call, the US President allegedly pressed Zelensky to open an investigation into corruption allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Trump, for his part, denies the allegations, slamming an impeachment attempt as a “coup”.
Republican Senator Charles Ernest Grassley, in turn, insisted that the whistleblower, who is thought to be from CIA ranks, “ought to be heard out and protected.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, for his part, singled out a tentative agreement stipulating that the whistleblower may testify before the committee in the weeks ahead.