Senate aides met with tax return whistleblower: report

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 rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Trump administration planning to crack down on 'birth tourism': report George Conway on Trump adding Dershowitz, Starr to legal team: 'Hard to see how either could help' 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 GrassleyTrump administration planning to crack down on 'birth tourism': report Senate begins preparations for Trump trial Big Pharma looks to stem losses after trade deal defeat MORE (R-Iowa) and ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' Lawmakers call for FTC probe into top financial data aggregator Overnight Health Care: Progressives raise red flags over health insurer donations | Republican FTC commish backs Medicare negotiating drug prices | Trump moves to protect money for religious groups 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.

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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.

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Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealConservative groups aim to sink bipartisan fix to 'surprise' medical bills Treasury watchdog to investigate Trump opportunity zone program House poised to hand impeachment articles to Senate 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.