Another individual has filed an official whistleblower complaint relating to President Donald Trump’s administration, claiming that a political appointee working in the U.S. Department of Treasury might have improperly interfered with the annual audit of the president and Vice President Mike Pence’s tax returns, The Washington Post reported Thursday afternoon.
The latest whistleblower claims — made by an employee of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) — were reportedly dismissed by the Trump administration because it believed the claims to be “flimsy” as they were allegedly based on conversations with other government officials.
The White House has used a similar defense against the Ukraine whistleblower, who claimed the president made an inappropriate statement to a foreign leader on a July phone call. That whistleblower, reportedly a member of the CIA, said they weren’t present on the July call, but heard about it from other government officials who were present on the call with Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The Washington Post said Thursday that the latest official whistleblower complaint was so alarming to Congressional Democrats — who are already in the process of an official impeachment inquiry into the president — that they flagged the report to a federal judge. The D.C. newspaper said that Democrats were considering whether to make the whistleblower complaint publicly available.
The complaint was first discovered several months ago, The Washington Post said, though little had been known about it. Specifically, the outlet reported that it had not previously been revealed that a Treasury Department appointee was involved in the audit process complaint, nor had it been alleged that the complaint was filed by a career employee of the IRS.
Trump has been repeatedly unwilling since his 2016 campaign for the White House to release his tax returns to the public. House Democrats have attempted to get the Treasury Department to release them, The Washington Post said, and part of the House’s inquiry has been into how the IRS audits the yearly tax returns of the president and vice president. The process is supposed to be free of political interference or involvement from political appointees.
Earlier this year, Congressional Democrats filed a lawsuit in order to secure Trump’s tax returns following his refusal to make them publicly available. Per The Washington Post, the congressional lawsuit is based on a law that allows Congress to request any tax return.
The news of the IRS whistleblower comes less than a month after news reports surfaced that a whistleblower had filed an official complaint about a call the president had in July with Ukraine in which the president asked the foreign government for a “favor” before mentioning debunked conspiracy theories about Russian interference in the 2016 election and one into one of the president’s 2020 rivals, former vice president Joe Biden. A partial transcript released last week by the White House supports many of the whistleblower’s claims.
The Ukraine whistleblower complaint filed in August has sparked an official impeachment inquiry into the president, announced last week by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The president has repeatedly claimed his innocence and has launched attacks on Congressional Democrats, including the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, California Rep. Adam Schiff.