Politics Key House Republicans demand DOJ documents in leak of billionaires' tax records
DOJ to end practice of seeking court orders for reporter records in leak investigations
The Justice Department, following direction from President Joe Biden, will no longer seek court orders to obtain records from journalists just "doing their jobs" following revelations about Trump administration leak investigations and Obama-era controversies. © Provided by Washington Examiner “DOJ has now completed a review to determine all instances in which the department had pending compulsory requests from reporters in leak investigations.
The top Republicans on three House committees are ratcheting up pressure on the Biden administration after private tax information about thousands of the country’s wealthiest people to the media.
Reps. James Comer from Kentucky of the Oversight Committee; Jim Jordan from Ohio of the Judiciary Committee; and Rodney Davis from Illinois of the Administration Committee sent Attorney Generala letter inquiring about the Justice Department’s efforts to investigate the massive of documents leaked to investigative nonprofit organization ProPublica.
Billionaire tax leak deals Biden blow in getting GOP support for IRS funding
The massive leak of billionaires' tax data has imperiled what support there might have been from Republicans to back President Joe Biden's plan to give more money and authority to the IRS. © Provided by Washington Examiner On Tuesday investigative nonprofit organization ProPublica released details about the tax returns of thousands of the nation’s wealthiest people, a leak so expansive it covered some 15 years.
The lawmakers requested a staff-level briefing within a week in addition to access to all documents and communications regarding the Justice Department's efforts to enforce federal tax confidentiality law. The congressmen wrote they are particularly interested in information about how those efforts prevent IRS officials from leaking private tax information.
They also gave the Justice Department a one-week deadline to provide all records related to efforts to investigate the specific leak of tax information to ProPublica, including whether a criminal investigation has been launched.
“Leaks of tax information, particularly by government officials entrusted with caring for that sensitive information, are completely unacceptable,” the lawmakers told Garland. “Those responsible must be pursued to the fullest extent of the law.”
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The congressmen contend in the letter it appears likely an IRS employee or federal officer was behind the leaked trove of data and branded it a “gross breach of public trust.”
The leaked documents in question revealed that many of the wealthiest people, even those who advocate for higher taxes on the wealthy, paidin federal income taxes, though no wrongdoing was alleged. The lawmakers emphasized that regardless of who is affected by the leak, “Every American should have confidence that their personal tax information is secure and safe from privacy violations.”
“Especially as the Biden Administration’s proposed budget would vastly increase the size and staffing of the IRS, we are concerned about the potential for future leaks of sensitive tax information, particularly if such leaks are politically motivated or targeted against those who may take unpopular positions,” the trio wrote.
Trump DOJ seized phone records from New York Times journalists reporting on Comey leak investigation
The New York Times revealed the Justice Department under the Trump administration obtained phone records from four of its reporters, making it the third news outlet to announce similar seizures from its journalists following the Washington Post and CNN. © Provided by Washington Examiner Like with the prior revelations, the Justice Department declined to share what was the subject of investigation, but the New York Times reported on Wednesday that law enforcement seized phone records from Jan. 14 to April 30, 2017 from four reporters — Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eric Lichtblau, and Michael S.
President Joe Biden’s proposed IRS overhaul includes allocating $80 billion to the IRS to increase staffing and give it increased authority to crack down on tax evasion. The administration anticipates it can raise $700 billion in revenue over the next decade by doing so. It would also increase the sensitive info the IRS has access to by requiring banks to report annual account inflows and outflows.
Garland was asked about the leak during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Wednesday and said he took the matter seriously.
"I very well remember what President Nixon did in the Watergate period," the attorney general said. "The creation of enemies lists and the punishment of people through reviewing their tax returns. This is an extremely serious matter. People are entitled, obviously, to great privacy with respect to their tax returns."
While leaking private individuals’ confidential tax information is a crime, it is not as clear that receiving or publishing it is. Therefore, ProPublica claims it acted in the public interest and believes its actions were legal.
Leak of billionaires' tax data draws GOP outcry over privacy
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans in Congress are alarmed by the leak of confidential IRS data to the investigative news organization ProPublica, enabling it to reveal that famous billionaires including Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg paid little in U.S. income tax at times. A senior IRS official said Thursday that a federal criminal investigation into the leak has been requested. Taking a detour from the debate over President Joe Biden’s tax overhaul plan, the GOP lawmakers are demanding to know how the private tax data was disclosed and they are pressing the Treasury Department and the IRS to pursue anyone who violated the law.
Sen. Mike Crapo, a Republican from Idaho and ranking member of the Finance Committee, told the Washington Examiner on Thursday that the issue of security at the IRS is crucial as plans to overhaul it are considered.
“Before even considering additional funding, Congress and the American people need assurances that existing data at the IRS is guarded and secure,” Crapo said in a statement.
Jerry Dunleavy contributed to this report.
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