New York Times alleges Trump instructed his chief of staff John Kelly to have the IRS investigate his political enemies
Conservatives rightly loathe the targeting of political enemies of the Democrats by the Internal Revenue Service and now greatly fear the vastly expanded (and well armed) IRS that the Biden administration has authorized. But just as Republicans are beginning to talk about defunding the IRS expansion that was funded in the laughably mislabeled "Inflation Reduction Act," the New York Times has published this counterpropaganda:
While in office, President Donald J. Trump repeatedly told John F. Kelly, his second White House chief of staff, that he wanted a number of his perceived political enemies to be investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Mr. Kelly said.
Mr. Kelly, who was chief of staff from July 2017 through the end of 2018, said in response to questions from The New York Times that Mr. Trump's demands were part of a broader pattern of him trying to use the Justice Department and his authority as president against people who had been critical of him, including seeking to revoke the security clearances of former top intelligence officials.
Mr. Kelly said that among those Mr. Trump said "we ought to investigate" and "get the I.R.S. on" were the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey and his deputy, Andrew G. McCabe. His account of Mr. Trump's desires to use the I.R.S. against his foes comes after the revelation by The Times this summer that Mr. Comey and Mr. McCabe had both been selected for a rare and highly intrusive audit by the tax agency in the years after Mr. Kelly left the White House.
Yes, it would be wrong for President Trump to have used the IRS as a political tool in this way if Kelly's charges are accurate. But, with a highly politicized federal bureaucracy acting as a weapon for the Democrat party, we can expect more actions like those of Lois Lerner, who blocked tax-exempt status for nonprofits regarded as a threat to Democrats and who suffered no penalty for her actions beyond voluntary retirement and a reported six-figure retirement pay package.
Speaking to the Restoration Weekend, Victor Davis Hanson made the point that Republicans are expected to follow the Marquess of Queensberry rules while Democrats are able to fight dirty all they want with no media or political pushback. It is an asymmetric system of political combat, and one that yields defeat for our side more often than not.
There is no shortage of examples of IRS abuse of political targeting, mostly by Democrat presidents, but oddly enough, it is the Republicans who receive political flak for this tactic. Trump is only the latest example.
President Franklin Roosevelt used the IRS to harass newspaper publishers who were opposed to the New Deal (snip)
Perhaps Roosevelt's most pernicious tax skulduggery occurred in 1944. He spiked an IRS audit of illegal campaign contributions made by a government contractor to Congressman Lyndon Johnson, whose career might have been derailed if Texans had learned of the scandal.
President John F. Kennedy raised the political exploitation of the IRS to an art form. (snip)
After Richard Nixon took office, his administration quickly created a Special Services Staff to mastermind what a memo called "all IRS activities involving ideological, militant, subversive, radical, and similar type organizations." (snip)
The exposure of Nixon's IRS abuses during congressional hearings in 1973 and 1974 profoundly weakened him during the uproar after the Watergate hotel break-in. (snip)
In 1995, the White House and the Democratic National Committee produced a 331-page report entitled "Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce" that attacked magazines, think tanks and other entities and individuals who had criticized President Clinton. In the subsequent years, many organizations mentioned in the White House report were hit by IRS audits. More than 20 conservative organizations—including the Heritage Foundation and the American Spectator magazine — and almost a dozen individual high-profile Clinton accusers, such as Paula Jones and Gennifer Flowers, were audited.
Alas, the only solution I can see is a huge and perhaps unrealistic level of reform: radical tax simplification such as a flat tax on gross income or (better yet in my view) replacement of the income tax with a national value added tax, eliminating the many judgment calls inherent in income tax accounting.
It is a dream to expect that Trump's alleged interference will be treated the same way that Democrats' abuses have been.
Hat tip: Ed Lasky.