Aides to the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee met earlier this month with a federal employee who alleges possible inappropriate efforts to influence an IRS audit of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report MORE or Vice President Pence, The Washington Post reported Monday, citing two people with knowledge of the matter.
The Post reported that the lawmakers’ offices are planning follow-up interviews and that it isn’t known to what extent the senators — Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyBooker, Sanders propose new federal agency to control drug prices GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse Johnson opens door to subpoenaing whistleblower, Schiff, Bidens MORE (R-Iowa) and ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocratic senators introduce bill to block funding for border wall live stream Booker, Sanders propose new federal agency to control drug prices Hillicon Valley: Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract in court | State antitrust investigation into Google expands | Intel agencies no longer collecting location data without warrant MORE (D-Ore.) — consider the whistleblower to be credible.
The Post’s report indicates that lawmakers in both chambers of Congress are looking at the whistleblower’s allegations. The existence of the whistleblower was first made public in a court filing in August in the House Ways and Means Committee’s lawsuit aimed at obtaining six years of President Trump’s federal tax returns.
Grassley and Wyden didn’t confirm their aides’ meeting with the whistleblower, citing Section 6103 of the tax code, which generally protects tax return privacy.
“You’re asking me something that I can’t answer. We don’t normally talk about … whistleblower issues, but in this particular one because 6103 is involved I can’t even comment,” Grassley told reporters Monday.
A spokesman for Grassley said that his office generally doesn’t comment on whistleblower meetings or whether they took place.
In a statement provided to The Hill, Wyden said, “I am aware of public reports of a whistleblower complaint related to the mandatory audit program of the president and vice president. Because any discussion of this matter may implicate section 6103 privacy requirements or whistleblower protections, I cannot comment further on the matter.”
The whistleblower first contacted the chairs of Congress’s tax committees in July. The following month, the Ways and Means Committee revealed the whistleblower’s existence in a court document. The Post reported in September that the whistleblower is an IRS employee who was told that at least one Treasury Department employee may have tried to interfere with an audit of Trump or Pence.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealKrystal Ball accuses Democrats of having ‘zero moral authority’ amid impeachment inquiry House Democrats object to giving Trump notice before seeking NY tax returns On The Money: Trump appeals to Supreme Court to keep tax returns from NY prosecutors | Pelosi says deal on new NAFTA ‘imminent’ | Mnuchin downplays shutdown threat | Trump hits Fed after Walmart boasts strong earnings MORE (D-Mass.) is arguing that he wants to obtain Trump’s tax returns from the IRS because his committee is conducting oversight and considering legislative proposals relating to how the IRS audits presidents. While it is internal IRS policy to conduct mandatory audits of presidents and vice presidents, it is not the law.
When Neal was asked last week if anyone with his committee has met with the whistleblower, he said, “I know that the follow-up has taken place.”
He added that his office is “exhausting every avenue” to make sure that the whistleblower’s complaint is credible.