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Why 87,000 new IRS agents are being linked to the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago

Some supporters of former President Donald Trump see a strengthened IRS as the political weaponization of a federal agency

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Ben Pollack holds his flag upside down as he stands near Mar-a-Lago, in background, in Palm Beach, Fla., on Tuesday, August 9, 2022. An American flag flown upside down is considered a symbol of distress.

Ben Pollack holds his flag upside down as he stands near Mar-a-Lago, in background, in Palm Beach, Fla., on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022.

Greg Lovett, The Palm Beach Post via Associated Press

The Inflation Reduction Act that the Senate passed Sunday seems to have nothing to do with Monday’s FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago, the Florida estate of former President Donald Trump.

But it didn’t take long for people on social media to start connecting the dots between what they see as politically driven overreach by two federal agencies. And there was an ominous undertone echoed by conservative media personalities: It’s happening to Trump, and it will happen to you.

Internal Revenue Service commissioner Charles Rettig says the new agents will not be targeting ordinary Americans and the hires are necessary to replace baby boomers who will soon be retiring. The agency has said that a staff shortage is partly responsible for the delay in processing in income tax refunds in recent years, and former Idaho Attorney General Jim Jones recently argued in The Hill that “it’s time for the country to show some love for the only federal agency that takes in much more revenue than it expends.” The IRS has also said that the new hires would include IT and customer service positions and would be phased in through 2031.

Still, there’s no doubt that the act, which has not yet been voted on by the House, will result in what Slate called a “supercharged IRS” if unchanged. Quoting the Washington Free Beacon, radio personality Glenn Beck said the hirings will double the size of the IRS workforce, giving it more workers than those who work for “the Pentagon, the State Department, FBI and Border Patrol combined.”

As Trump’s taxes are part of several investigations involving the former president, it’s easy to see why his supporters are suspicious of a newly robust agency with the power to scrutinize personal financial records. Many believe the Trump investigations are politically motivated and will expand to ordinary people who support Trump. They see the FBI’s raid at Mar-a-Lago as part of a long-standing witch hunt against the wealthy businessman who amassed political power by promising to look after the interests of the “forgotten Americans.”

And it helps their case that despite multiple investigations spanning years and two impeachments, Trump has yet to be criminally charged with anything, even in Robert Mueller’s 22-month investigation of “Russiagate.”

Of course, that could change any day. Neither the White House nor the Justice Department have commented on what the FBI sought in Monday’s raid, and the warrant has not been made public. And it’s not just Republicans who are saying that there will be consequences if there is no “smoking gun.” Andrew Yang, a former Democratic presidential candidate, wrote on Twitter that while he is not a fan of Trump, “It looks increasingly like the FBI raid was to find mishandled classified documents and not some other DOJ investigation which was my first thought. Mishandling documents doesn’t seem like raid material.”

Meanwhile, while the IRS is not yet authorized to hire those 87,000 new employees — the $430 billion bill still has to pass the House — it didn’t take long for someone to find an ominous job listing on the agency’s website.

“We’re hiring special agents now! Click to apply today!” the careers page says, adding that agents combine accounting skills with law enforcement.

Major duties, it goes on to say, include “carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force if necessary” and to “be willing and able to participate in arrests, execution of search warrants, and other dangerous assignments.”

With ads like this, it’s no wonder that some in the MAGA movement are warning us to be afraid, very afraid.