Despite ‘No Evidence,’ MSNBC Pushes Trump Ordered Audits While Out of Office

News & Politics

On Wednesday, The New York Times via Washington correspondent Michael Schmidt published a fairly weak article suggesting former President Trump had ordered the IRS to conduct audits of former FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Despite the blatant inconstancies and admitting there’s “no evidence,” the liberal media’s ‘it rings true’ barometer carried the day on Thursday’s Andrea Mitchell Reports on MSNBC.

“So, what are the chances of two Trump foes getting audited by the IRS? Well, it’s about one in 82 million according to a New York Times calculation,” Mitchell pompously announced as she came back from a commercial break.

Well, since, she brought it up. In his article, Schmidt hid the fact that McCabe’s audit didn’t begin until “October 2021, nine months after Mr. Trump left office.” It was a key fact he didn’t get around to mentioning until paragraph 44 (of 54). Comey’s happened in 2019.

The supposed connection was Trump-appointed commissioner, Charles Rettig, who still runs the agency and has denied involvement. And something Schmidt failed to address in his article: if Trump was brazen enough to order an IRS audit after he left office, then why hasn’t he ordered them to drop the audit he’s allegedly been facing for years?

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But those inconstancies didn’t stop Mitchell as she peddled the accusations because “Both were fired, of course, by Trump during the Russia investigation into the 2016 campaign.”

And talking to former senior FBI official and U.S. attorney Chuck Rosenberg, Mitchell harped on the numbers again. “They say it’s very rare. And for these two men, both of whom have the same job and both were on Trump’s enemy list, to both be audited is a one in 82 million probability, according to The New York Times.”

And although he did say that the accusations should be turned over to “the Treasury inspector general and let that person figure it out,” Rosenberg did note that statistically unlikely things do happen and made an important distinction:

The statistics tell you that this is highly, highly unusual. The statistics don’t tell you that it’s improper. Right? I mean, Michael Steele could win the lottery. It’s extremely unlikely that he’ll do that. He could also win the lottery twice. That’s an infinitesimally small chance. But winning it twice has happened. And it’s statistically possible. So, the only real answer I think I have right now is, highly unusual, statistically and mathematically.

Mitchell then went to New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker to defend their reporting, but even he admitted “Chuck is right there’s no evidence in the story that Mike Schmidt was able to publish that suggests definitively this was done as an act of retaliation…”

But Baker did try to argue that “the circumstantial evidence of the numbers” was “very daunting,” thus hard to refute. He went on to make the hollow ‘rings true’ argument by suggesting Trump’s desire to strip security clearances from self-enriching former intelligence bosses backs up the possibility:

He tried, in fact, I think, to strip security clearances from Jim Comey and Jim Clapper and other former intelligence director – I think John Brennan, the former CIA director; not because they had done anything thing wrong but because they criticized him. And he didn’t like them because there was all of that. And therefore, he wanted to use his power to take away their security clearance.

“So, in other words, he showed again and again a willingness to do things other presidents didn’t do or wouldn’t have done or at least would have been embarrassed to have been caught doing,” he insisted.

This pushing of a accusations with no evidence was made possible because of lucrative sponsorships from Ensure and The Farmer’s Dog. Their contact information is linked.

The transcript is below, click “expand” to read:

MSNBC’s Mitchell Report
July 7, 2022
12:36:14 p.m. Eastern

ANDREA MITCHELL: So, what are the chances of two Trump foes getting audited by the IRS? Well, it’s about one in 82 million according to a New York Times calculation. That’s exactly what happened to former FBI director James Comey and his deputy, who replaced him when Comey was fired, Andrew McCabe, until McCabe was fired by Donald Trump. Because he was the acting FBI director for a few months. Both were fired, of course, by Trump during the Russia investigation into the 2016 campaign.

The New York Times reports the audits took place under Trump-appointed IRS commissioner Charles Reddig, who is still on the job. The IRS is denying any wrongdoing. Reddig saying he has nothing to do with individual audits, that’s done by career bureaucrats.

Comey and his wife’s audit start in November of 2019, costing them nearly $5,000 in accountant fees. Comey at one point had to send the IRS the family’s Christmas card to prove how many children he had as dependence. McCabe’s audit began in October of 2021, months after Trump left office. McCabe reacted to the reporting on CNN earlier today.

[Cuts to video]

ANDREW MCCABE: We were talking about a coincidence that really is almost impossible statistically. [Transition] It wasn’t until I found out about Jim Comey’s audit that I started wondering that this can’t possibly be random.

[Cuts back to live]

MITCHELL: So, joining us now is Chuck Rosenberg, MSNBC contributor and a former senior FBI official and U.S. Attorney, and New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker, and former RNC chairman Michael Steele.

Chuck, I don’t know if you’ve ever had that kind of intensive audit. They say it’s very rare. And for these two men, both of whom have the same job and both were on Trump’s enemy list, to both be audited is a one in 82 million probability, according to The New York Times. What say you?

CHUCK ROSENBERG: Well, I haven’t had the pleasure of an IRS audit. Perhaps something to look forward to, Andrea.

The statistics tell you that this is highly, highly unusual. The statistics don’t tell you that it’s improper. Right? I mean, Michael Steele could win the lottery. It’s extremely unlikely that he’ll do that. He could also win the lottery twice. That’s an infinitesimally small chance. But winning it twice has happened. And it’s statistically possible.

So, the only real answer I think I have right now is, highly unusual, statistically and mathematically. And we should turn it over to the Treasury inspector general and let that person figure it out. We don’t know right now. It would be conjecture. But the math looks daunting.

MITCHELL: Peter Baker, this New York Times report by your colleague Michael Schmidt is certainly alarming. And it’s certainly resonant of things many people experienced during the Nixon years, when there was definitely an enemies list and people were audited on orders of the White House.

PETER BAKER: Yeah, I think, look, Chuck is right there’s no evidence in the story that Mike Schmidt was able to publish that suggests definitively this was done as an act of retaliation other than the circumstantial evidence of the numbers which are very daunting.

However, I think, you have to take into context President Trump’s very, very clear messages throughout his presidency that he wanted to use the apparatus of government to punish his enemies. Repeatedly, he called on the Justice Department to prosecute people he didn’t like, including James Comey and Andrew McCabe. Repeatedly, he sought to use the power of his presidency to take action against those he didn’t like politically.

He tried, in fact, I think, to strip security clearances from Jim Comey and Jim Clapper and other former intelligence director – I think John Brennan, the former CIA director; not because they had done anything thing wrong but because they criticized him. And he didn’t like them because there was all of that. And therefore, he wanted to use his power to take away their security clearance.

So, in other words, he showed again and again a willingness to do things other presidents didn’t do or wouldn’t have done or at least would have been embarrassed to have been caught doing.

(…)

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