Attorney General Merrick Garland said Wednesday that investigating those who disclosed tons of tax information on wealthy Americans to a news agency would be a priority for him, calling the situation “astonishing.”
“This is an extremely serious matter,” Garland told members of a Senate appropriations subcommittee when asked about the IRS data breach.
“It was on my list of things to raise after I finished preparing for this hearing, and I promise you will be at the top of my list,” Garland told Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine).
ProPublica said on Tuesday it had obtained tax information spanning more than 15 years that shows richest Americans – including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, media titan Michael Bloomberg and investor Carl Icahn – have paid little or no federal income tax.
The nonprofit news organization said it did not know the source of the information and did not ask for it.
The report sparked anger in Washington over how some of the richest people in the world can avoid taxes, especially among Democrats, and also raised bipartisan concerns about the safety of tax information held by the IRS. .
A spokesperson for the Treasury said on Tuesday that the violation had been referred to the FBI and other relevant federal agencies for investigation.