The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is no stranger to scandal. Whether it was under the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration or the Biden administration, accusations of (as well as proof of) ethical misconduct by this governmental agency have long reigned. The latest scandal over the agency has surfaced over a potential attempt at witness intimidation by the IRS. The witness in question was Matt Taibbi, one of Twitter Files’ journalists.
The accusation, made by Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH), is that an IRS officer left a note at the journalist’s New Jersey home that asked Mr. Taibbi to contact them. When Mr. Taibbi returned to his New Jersey abode after testifying before Congress, he found the note and contacted the agency. They informed him that “his electronic 2018 and 2021 tax return filings had been rejected due to concerns of identity theft.” The journalist contends that he never received such concerns from the IRS prior to his testifying before Congress according to Just The News.
Mr. Jordan noted in his letter about the incident wrote that “[t]he circumstances surrounding the IRS’s unannounced and unprompted visit to Mr. Taibbi’s home, at the exact time that he was testifying to Congress about “the most serious” government abuse he has witnessed in his career as a journalist, are incredible…These facts demand a careful examination by the Committee to determine whether the visit was a thinly-veiled attempt to influence or intimidate a witness before Congress.”
Representative Jordan demanded an accounting by the IRS of its conduct and that they forward all documentation and information about the incident to the House Judiciary Committee. In a tweet about the incident, the Ohio Republican simply emphasized that on “[t]he very day Matt Taibbi testified before the @Weaponization Committee, the IRS showed up at his house. ???”
The very day Matt Taibbi testified before the @Weaponization Committee, the IRS showed up at his house.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) March 28, 2023
Mr. Taibbi for his part also took to social media to merely comment that “For those asking, I don’t want to comment on the IRS issue pending an answer to chairman @Jim_Jordan’s letter. I’m not worried for myself, but I did feel the Committee should be aware of the situation.”
For those asking, I don’t want to comment on the IRS issue pending an answer to chairman @Jim_Jordan’s letter. I’m not worried for myself, but I did feel the Committee should be aware of the situation.
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) March 28, 2023
Michael Schellenberger, another journalist behind the Twitter Files revelations and who testified alongside Mr. Taibbi about them, also noted this development with concern. He wrote that “While @mtaibbi & I were testifying before Congress on the weaponization of the federal government, an IRS agent showed up at his house. What an amazing coincidence.”
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Both journalists have highlighted the vast labyrinthian state censorship-technological nexus and the problems to civil liberties and the American constitutional order it poses. They also note that this nexus is at least partly used in a bipartisan fashion. Matt Taibbi for instance recently tweeted about how “Mike Pompeo’s State Department wrongly told multiple media outlets” that 5,500 persons “were Chinese propaganda accounts (actually they were just people who followed more than one Chinese diplomat). Seems like a story even the Times and Post could have run. But no.”
We printed a list of 5500 names Mike Pompeo’s State Department wrongly told multiple media outlets were Chinese propaganda accounts (actually they were just people who followed more than one Chinese diplomat). Seems like a story even the Times and Post could have run. But no. https://t.co/1dcGvt3L3v
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) March 27, 2023
Vigilance toward state power and a healthy skepticism toward its authority to curate or censor information is the price to pay for a society to remain free. The fact that the IRS may have engaged in yet more unethical conduct to try to silence one who exposes serious public-private sector misconduct is concerning.