A contractor for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) pled guilty Thursday to illegally disclosing the tax returns of former President Donald Trump and thousands of other prominent individual’s tax records.
Charles Littlejohn, a 38-year-old IRS consultant in Washington D.C., was charged by federal prosecutors last month with a single count of unauthorized disclosure of tax returns and return information. According to a DOJ press release, Littlejohn stole the tax information of a “high-ranking public official” and leaked it to “News Organization 1.” The “high-ranking” government official has been identified as Donald Trump, whose tax returns were leaked to The New York Times weeks before the 2020 election.
“By using his role as a government contractor to gain access to private tax information, steal that information, and disclose it publicly, Charles Littlejohn broke federal law and betrayed the public’s trust,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “In every case, the Department of Justice is committed to following the facts wherever they lead and holding accountable those who violate our laws.”
But true accountability would carry a higher penalty than a single charge in a case where thousands of tax records were prominently released to major news organizations. According to the DOJ, Littlejohn “separately stole tax return information for thousands of the nation’s wealthiest individuals” and then “disclosed this tax return information to News Organization 2.” Fox News identified News Organization 2 as the left-wing smear factory ProPublica.
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.”
The maximum penalty for Littlejohn’s crimes is five years in prison. Littlejohn will be sentenced on Jan. 29, 2024, according to the Department of Justice.
The DOJ indictment was served after two whistleblowers from the federal tax agency publicly accused the Justice Department of attempting to hinder efforts to investigate President Joe Biden’s family finances. Whistleblowers say the DOJ thwarted investigative efforts, slow-walked cooperation with tax agents, and even concealed critical evidence implicating Biden in a criminal bribery scheme. According to veteran IRS agent Gary Shapley, the most significant felonies “were left off the table” when prosecutors unveiled their since-derailed plea agreement with Hunter Biden.