IRS contractor Charles Littlejohn strolled into a federal courthouse in Washington on Oct. 12 and pleaded guilty to a single count of unauthorized disclosure of tax return information. The Department of Justice issued a press release with various public officials, including Merrick Garland, uttering platitudes about the rule of law. Like many things today, it was a complete charade.
Littlejohn illegally accessed Donald Trump’s tax return information in 2019, which was then published before the 2020 election in The New York Times. Also, in 2020, he illegally accessed the tax return information of scores of prominent individuals, and that information was published by ProPublica later that year. This was a very serious criminal scheme.
For years, the IRS inspector general (TIGTA) allegedly investigated the crimes, but with no discernible activity. (They apparently did not contact The New York Times or ProPublica.) This lack of progress was despite a system called UNAX (unauthorized access) within the IRS, which flags the internal unauthorized access of tax returns. Every year, IRS employees are fired and even prosecuted for accessing the tax return information of ex-spouses and celebrities. Even if UNAX did not flag Littlejohn, it would have greatly reduced the pool of suspects.
Recently, one victim of the leaks, Ken Griffin, sued the IRS. That seemed to get the government’s attention. As part of a prearranged agreement, Littlejohn was allowed to plead guilty to a single count of unauthorized disclosure. Given the seriousness of the crimes, he will probably serve some jail time, but the government has afforded him every courtesy. The government also apparently claims Littlejohn acted alone, which seems unlikely.
DOJ did not stack multiple counts against Littlejohn. Despite statements in its own press release about Littlejohn obstructing the investigation, he was not charged with obstruction. He was allowed to freely walk into the courthouse to plead guilty and walk back out. There was no theatrical arrest with a gunned-up SWAT team and no pre-dawn raid with CNN in tow. He was a contractor, but there was no mention of his Beltway Bandit employer, and that company’s identity has not leaked out. The government officials clearly viewed him as “one of us.”
And yet Littlejohn should be kicking himself. I dislike Donald Trump, but I suspect that if Littlejohn had stopped after disseminating Trump’s return information, TIGTA would still be “investigating.” I also suspect that if Ken Griffin had not sued the IRS, TIGTA would still be “investigating.”
I may be cynical about this matter, but I have a solid foundation for that cynicism. I was forced out as an IRS attorney after 30 years of service because I was a whistleblower. The IRS and its Mr. Fix It, TIGTA, claimed I violated taxpayer privacy because my name appeared in a Washington Post article. They then sucker-punched me with a notice of proposed termination. To support their case, they literally made up conversations that never occurred. The IRS and TIGTA shredded the civil service rules and broke the law to force me out, and no one in Washington cared. A friend summed up the situation best by stating, “They are willing to lie, and they have more lawyers than you do.”
In addition, I provided TIGTA in 2017 with the names of nine witnesses to substantive IRS corruption and misconduct. To this day, TIGTA has not contacted those witnesses, and no one in authority has bothered to ask TIGTA why those witnesses were never contacted. This is the environment of complete corruption in which the Littlejohn “investigation” was conducted.
The arrogance of government executives is matched only by their cleverness. They are very clever people. There is a difference, however, between being clever and being wise. If they were wise, they would realize that their clever schemes are causing incalculable damage to our country, the rule of law, and social trust. Or maybe they don’t care. After all, they are willing to lie, and they have more lawyers than you do.