In response to questions from the New York Times, Donald Trump’s second White House Chief of Staff John Kelly stated Trump repeatedly sought to have the IRS and the FBI launch investigations into his political enemies.
Using mob-esque phraseology like “we ought to investigate” and “get the I.R.S. on,” Trump would tell Kelly and others about his plans to use the IRS and the Justice Department to harass people like FBI Director James Comey and FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Trump also wanted to use the IRS to harass his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton; CIA Director John O. Brennan; Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and the owner of The Washington Post; and Peter Strzok and Lisa Page former FBI officials who became the target of scores of conservative conspiracy theories.
“The U.S. government, whether it’s the I.R.S. or the Justice Department, should never be weaponized or used to retaliate, and certainly not because someone criticizes you in the press or is your political opponent,” Kelly said in an email responding to the Times’ questions. “The average federal employee or F.B.I. agent or I.R.S. agent goes to work and executes the laws and regulations and shouldn’t be put in this position.”
Asked about the claim, Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington responded with the expected rancor and projection: “It’s total fiction created by a psycho, John Kelly, who never said this before, and made it up just because he’s become so irrelevant.”