In a plea deal with federal prosecutors on Thursday, a former IRS contractor accused of illegally disclosing tax information about former President Donald Trump and hundreds of other wealthy Americans pleaded guilty to a federal charge.
Charles Edward Littlejohn, 38, of Washington, DC, has been accused by the Justice Department of collecting tax return information and providing it to two news outlets between 2018 and 2020.
U.S. District Judge Ana Reyes expressed severe concern over his conduct, which impacted Trump and many others. She said that society breaks down whenever individuals decide to “take the law into their own hands” for whatever cause.
Littlejohn entered a guilty plea on one count of unlawful sharing of tax return information. The maximum sentence for the offense is five years in prison, but the court will decide. His sentencing date is January 29.
While The New York Times and ProPublica weren’t explicitly identified in the claims, the timeline and description match up with both publications’ reporting on Trump’s tax returns.
The 2020 New York Times investigation revealed that Trump paid only $750 in federal income tax the year he became president and that, in specific years, he paid no income tax at all due to massive losses. The Democratic majority in the House Ways and Means Committee eventually made public six years’ worth of his tax returns.
Meanwhile, in 2021, ProPublica revealed extensive information from the tax returns of the country’s wealthiest citizens. It discovered the top 25 richest people pay a legally lower tax rate than the average worker.
There have been calls to investigate the leaking of tax information, which is subject to certain legal protections, and to revise taxes for the wealthy due to the articles.
Security at the IRS has been heightened after officials made clear that leaking taxpayer data is not tolerated.