A contractor for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) escaped significant charges Friday with a single criminal charge from the Department of Justice (DOJ) for leaking thousands of prominent tax records, including those of former President Donald Trump, which were leaked shortly before the 2020 presidential election.
Charles Littlejohn, a 38-year-old IRS consultant in Washington D.C., was charged by federal prosecutors with one count of unauthorized disclosure of tax returns and return information.
A press release from the Justice Department claims Littlejohn “stole tax return information associated with a high-ranking government official” and then “disclosed it to a news organization.” Prosecutors did not name either the “high-ranking government official” or the news organization in question, but ABC News reported that a “person familiar with the matter confirmed … the unnamed high-ranking government official is Trump.”
President Donald Trump’s taxes were leaked to The New York Times weeks ahead of the 2020 election.
Federal prosecutors also accused Littlejohn of stealing “tax return information for thousands of the nation’s wealthiest individuals, and disclos[ing] this tax return information to another news organization.” That news organization was left-wing smear factory ProPublica, according to Fox News reporting.
In the summer of 2021, ProPublica published “The Secret IRS Files: Trove of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax.” Individuals whose tax records were released include Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Michael Bloomberg.
“ProPublica has obtained a vast trove of Internal Revenue Service data on the tax returns of thousands of the nation’s wealthiest people, covering more than 15 years,” the group reported. “The data provides an unprecedented look inside the financial lives of America’s titans, including Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg. It shows not just their income and taxes, but also their investments, stock trades, gambling winnings and even the results of audits.”
If convicted, Littlejohn faces a maximum of five years in prison.
The single charge against Littlejohn follows criticism of the Justice Department from IRS whistleblowers who claim the agency sought to hamper a federal tax investigation into Hunter Biden. Whistleblowers say the DOJ thwarted investigative efforts, slow-walked cooperation with tax agents, and even concealed critical evidence implicating President Joe Biden in a criminal bribery scheme. The most significant felonies of which Hunter Biden was suspected, said veteran IRS agent Gary Shapley this summer, “were left off the table.”