03/28/2023 09:00 PM
Is the IRS targeting Matt Taibbi?
It sure looks like it.
Democrats are denouncing the House GOP investigation into the weaponization of government, but maybe that’s because Republicans are getting somewhere. That includes new evidence that the Internal Revenue Service may be targeting a journalist who testified before the weaponization committee.
House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan sent a letter Monday to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen seeking an explanation for why journalist Matt Taibbi received an unannounced home visit from an IRS agent. We’ve seen the letter, and both the circumstances and timing of the IRS focus on this journalist raise serious questions.
Mr. Taibbi has provoked the ire of Democrats and other journalists for his role in researching Twitter records and then releasing internal communications from the social-media giant that expose its censorship and its contacts with government officials. This effort has already inspired government bullying, with Chair Lina Khan’s Federal Trade Commission targeting new Twitter owner Elon Musk and demanding the company “identify all journalists” granted access to the Twitter files.
Now Mr. Taibbi has told Mr. Jordan’s committee that an IRS agent showed up at his personal residence in New Jersey on March 9. That happens to be the same day Mr. Taibbi testified before the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government about what he learned about Twitter. The taxman left a note instructing Mr. Taibbi to call the IRS four days later. Mr. Taibbi was told in a call with the agent that both his 2018 and 2021 tax returns had been rejected owing to concerns over identity theft.
Mr. Taibbi has provided the committee with documentation showing his 2018 return had been electronically accepted, and he says the IRS never notified him or his accountants of a problem after he filed that 2018 return more than four-and-a-half years ago.
He says the IRS initially rejected his 2021 return, which he later refiled, and it was rejected again—even though Mr. Taibbi says his accountants refiled it with an IRS-provided pin number. Mr. Taibbi notes that in neither case was the issue “monetary,” and that the IRS owes him a “considerable” sum.
The bigger question is when did the IRS start to dispatch agents for surprise house calls? Typically when the IRS challenges some part of a tax return, it sends a dunning letter. Or it might seek more information from the taxpayer or tax preparer. If the IRS wants to audit a return, it schedules a meeting at the agent’s office. It doesn’t drop by unannounced.
The curious timing of this visit, on the heels of the FTC demand that Twitter turn over names of journalists, raises questions about potential intimidation, and Mr. Jordan is right to want to see documents and communications relating to the Taibbi visit.
The fear of many Americans is that, flush with its new $80 billion in funding from Congress, the IRS will unleash its fearsome power against political opponents. Mr. Taibbi deserves to know why the agency decided to pursue him with a very strange house call.
Onward and upward,
03/27/2023 05:38 PM
Federal prosecutors have now revealed a Proud Boys defense witness was actually a government informant
for two years after
the Jan. 6 incident.
Federal prosecutors disclosed Wednesday that a witness expected to testify for the defense at the seditious conspiracy trial of former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and four associates was secretly acting as a government informant for nearly two years after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, a defense lawyer said in a court filing.
Carmen Hernandez, a lawyer for former Proud Boys chapter leader Zachary Rehl, asked a judge to schedule an immediate emergency hearing and suspend the trial “until these issues have been considered and resolved.” Lawyers for the other four defendants joined in Hernandez’s request.
Hernandez said in court papers that the defense team was told by prosecutors on Wednesday afternoon that the witness they were planning to call to the stand on Thursday had been a government informant.
The judge ordered prosecutors to file a response to the defense filing by Thursday afternoon and scheduled a hearing for the same day, putting testimony in the case on hold until Friday. The U.S. attorney’s office did not immediately comment on the filing.
In her court filing, Hernandez said the unnamed informant participated in “prayer meetings” with relatives of at least one of the Proud Boys on trial and had discussions with family members about replacing one of the defense lawyers on the case. The informant also has been in contact with at least one of the defense lawyers and at least one of the five defendants, Hernandez wrote.
It’s the latest twist in a trial that has been bogged down by bickering between lawyers and the judge and already lasted much longer than expected. Defense lawyers have repeatedly asked the judge in vain to declare a mistrial over a variety of issues they say have been unfair to their clients.
The trial in Washington’s federal court is one of the most serious cases to emerge from the Jan. 6 attack. Tarrio, Rehl and three other Proud Boys — Joseph Biggs, Ethan Nordean and Dominic Pezzola — are charged with conspiring to block the transfer of presidential power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden after the 2020 election.
Tarrio, a Miami resident, served as national chairman for the far-right extremist group, whose members describe it as a politically incorrect men’s club for “Western chauvinists.” He and the other Proud Boys could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of seditious conspiracy.
Defense attorneys have argued there is no evidence the Proud Boys plotted to attack the Capitol and stop Congress from certifying Biden’s electoral victory.
Hernandez didn’t name the informant in her court filing, but she said it is somebody who has serving as a “confidential human source” for the federal government since April 2021 through at least January 2023. Prosecutors knew in December that the person was a potential trial witness but didn’t inform defense lawyers until Wednesday that the witness has been a federal informant, she said.
It’s not the first time the government’s use of informants has become an issue in the case. Defense attorneys have repeatedly pushed to get more information about informants in the far-right extremist group as they try to undermine the notion that the group had a plan to attack the Capital on Jan. 6.
FBI Agent Nicole Miller testified last week that she was aware of two informants in the Proud Boys, including one who marched on the Capital on Jan. 6.
Hernandez said there are “reasons to doubt the veracity of the government’s explanation and justification for withholding information about the (confidential human sources) who have been involved in the case.” She could not immediately be reached for additional comment.
Law enforcement routinely uses informants in criminal investigations, but their methods and identities can be closely guarded secrets. Federal authorities haven’t publicly released much information about their use of informants in investigating the Proud Boys’ role in a mob’s attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Nordean, of Auburn, Washington, was a Proud Boys chapter leader. Biggs, of Ormond Beach, Florida, was a self-described Proud Boys organizer. Rehl was president of the Proud Boys chapter in Philadelphia. Pezzola was a Proud Boys member from Rochester, New York.
At this point, I'm pretty sure the FBI had more people in the Proud Boys than the Proud Boys did.
Onward and upward,
03/24/2023 05:53 PM
It's looking like Trump won't be indicted.
As much as The Donald was looking forward to that perp walk, it's looking like it might not happen at all.
The left was practically salivating at the thought of Trump getting indicted and arrested, but just as quickly as the hype started, it seems to be fizzling out. It looks like their dreams of seeing him in handcuffs are slipping away faster than a greased pig at a rodeo. At this point, I dare say that it looks like it won’t happen at all.
That’s right. No indictment. No handcuffs. No perp walk. The radical left has been yearning for this moment for years. And for a few days, it seemed like that wish might finally come true. However, it now appears to be just another chapter in a never-ending fantasy that always falls short of becoming a reality.
The first hint that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s indictment of Trump was going sour was when former Michael Cohen legal advisor Robert Costello appeared as a surprise witness on Monday. Trump touted Costello’s testimony as conclusive and irrefutable evidence of his innocence. And he may not have been exaggerating.
It sure does look like Costello’s testimony, along with the evidence he presented — a five-year-old letter from Michael Cohen’s attorney affirming that Cohen made the payment to Stormy Daniels alone and that Trump had no role in reimbursing him — had a significant impact on Bragg’s case against Trump. This impact was so substantial that the Manhattan grand jury did not assemble on Wednesday, and while they did meet on Thursday, they did not hear the case involving Trump, postponing the alleged indictment to at least next week.
However, it remains doubtful that the indictment will occur at all. In fact, the Daily Mail reported on Wednesday that there is speculation that the prosecutors have been unsuccessful in persuading the jury to accept that Trump is guilty of a crime.
“They are having trouble convincing the jury to swallow the case. It’s a weak case and has caused divisions in the DA’s office,” a source allegedly told the outlet. “Other reports suggested the DA’s office could be contemplating a change of strategy. The grand jury meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, but postponements are not unusual and jurors are warned to expect last-minute changes. Either way, it leaves the nation with a cliffhanger.”
Legal experts from both sides of the political aisle have highlighted the frailty of Bragg’s case. Bragg was most certainly aware of this fact, too. Perhaps he didn’t care because he was too eager to become a hero to the radical left and advance his career. Or maybe his Trump Derangement Syndrome blinded him to the fact that he had a weak case. Ironically, the only person who stands to benefit from this situation is Trump.
The anticipation of an imminent indictment in New York has led to a surge in donations for Trump. According to reports, his campaign raked in $1.5 million in the three days after Trump announced on Truth Social that he expected to be arrested on Tuesday.
Anything can happen, of course, but I’m confident that Bragg’s case blew up in his face and the case that the left thought would be Trump’s downfall only made him stronger.
Onward and upward,