The man who disclosed Trump’s taxes eluded investigators for years, but was finally found after leaking information about Musk and Bezos, the WSJ reports.


  • Charles Littlejohn admitted to leaking Donald Trump’s tax returns.

  • Federal investigators didn’t know he was the leaker, a new Wall Street Journal report reveals.

  • Investigators had focused on Littlejohn for a separate leak involving billionaires Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

The man who fled Donald Trump’s tax returns almost completely evaded federal investigators, only getting arrested when he was targeted as a suspect for another leak of financial information on ultra-wealthy Americans, The Wall Street Journal reported.

IRS contractor Charles Littlejohn pleaded guilty in October to one count of taking information from a tax return without authorization. On two occasions, Littlejohn provided tax documents belonging to Trump, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk to two news organizations.

Littlejohn originally provided The New York Times with 20 years of Donald Trump’s tax returns in 2019, on which the news agency published an article in September 2020.

Federal investigators who studied how the information got into the hands of journalists failed in part because of Littlejohn’s technical skills, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. According to the Journal, investigators did not know whether the returns were revealed by a government leak or by someone outside the government with access to the documents.

This investigation was abandoned due to lack of concrete information. Investigators later began looking into a separate incident involving ProPublicawhich has published dozens of articles in 2021 on the tax returns of ultra-rich Americans like The Bezos of Amazon And Musk, CEO of SpaceX.

The amount of information ProPublica received, including tax information from thousands of people, indicated to investigators that an internal IRS leak had occurred, the Journal reported. From there, investigators began combing through employee and contractor search data to see if there were any unusual queries that didn’t match their specified job descriptions, the Journal reported, citing those same anonymous people.

The Journal reported that those searches were unsuccessful, but investigators eventually got an unspecified breakthrough in their hunt and focused on Littlejohn. The contractor admitted to leaking the data provided to ProPublica – as well as to the Times.

The DOJ and Littlejohn’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent by Business Insider outside of normal business hours.

Littlejohn is expected to be sentenced Monday on a single count of collecting tax return information without authorization as the statute of limitations has passed on leaking Trump’s 2019 returns. Republican legislators, furious at the leaks, demand that Littlejohn receive a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Prosecutors are also looking for a maximum sentence. Meanwhile, Littlejohn’s lawyers argued that the maximum sentence would be an “extreme” punishment, the Journal reported.

The explosive reports provided by the Times and ProPublica, based on Littlejohn’s leaks, revealed that ultra-rich Americans benefited from massive tax breaks and rules bent to benefit from financial advantages.

Trump’s tax returns show that the former president paid only $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017. Bezos’s returns showed that in 2007 and again in 2011, he did not paid nothing in federal income taxes. Musk’s tax returns show he paid $455 million in taxes on $1.52 billion in income between 2014 and 2018.

The financial dealings of the ultra-rich have long been the subject of intense scrutiny. However, few public figures have generated as much public interest as former President Trump, who is currently fighting an investigation related to his time in office. Commercial fraud case in New York.

On Friday, a letter written by former federal judge Barbara Jones, the special monitor appointed by the court to oversee the fraud case, appeared to indicate that Trump may have engaged in fraud. massive tax evasion claiming he was more than $48 million in debt to one of his companies – but the loan never existed.

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