Ex-IRS contractor who leaked Trump's tax records to media sentenced to five years in prison

 January 30, 2024

Charles Littlejohn, a former IRS contractor who leaked former President Donald Trump's tax returns to the media, was just sentenced to serve five years in prison for his criminally unauthorized disclosure of private tax information, Fox News reported.

In addition to the five-year sentence, the convicted ex-IRS consultant was also ordered to serve 36 months of supervised release once his prison term was complete and to pay a $5,000 fine.

Stole and leaked confidential tax records for Trump, others

According to a Justice Department press release, Littlejohn pleaded guilty in October 2023 to one count of unauthorized disclosure of tax returns and return information -- a charge that stemmed from his theft of tax returns and other private information for former President Trump and thousands of other wealthy Americans that were subsequently leaked to and published by certain media outlets.

He is reported to have exploited his position as an IRS contractor and consultant to access an IRS database and obtain the confidential tax information of then-President Trump and others, which he then uploaded to a private website and stored on multiple personal devices, though he later attempted to delete all of the information to cover up his crime and obstruct the criminal investigation.

In 2019, Littlejohn shared Trump's tax returns and other information with one news organization, The New York Times, which published the documents just weeks before the 2020 election.

In 2020, he further stole the tax returns and other information for thousands of wealthy Americans and similarly shared those documents with another media outlet, ProPublica, which published dozens of articles based on the illegal disclosures.

Judge rips Littlejohn's "lawlessness" and "intolerable attack" on "democracy"

Fox News reported that, according to federal prosecutors, Littlejohn deliberately sought the job as an IRS consultant in 2017 for the express purpose of obtaining and leaking then-President Trump's tax returns, given his belief that Trump posed a "threat to democracy" and his anger over Trump's refusal to voluntarily release that information as other presidential candidates have done in the past.

The prosecutors had argued during trial that the defendant "weaponized his access to unmasked taxpayer data to further his own personal political agenda, believing that he was above the law," as well as that "A free press and public engagement with the media are critical to any healthy democracy, but stealing and leaking private, personal tax information strips individuals of the legal protection of their most sensitive data."

During the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Ana Reyes, a Biden appointee, said that Littlejohn's illegal actions constituted "an intolerable attack on our constitutional democracy," and quipped, "The press tells us Democracy dies in darkness. It also dies in lawlessness."

The judge observed, "There are numerous lawful means to bring things to light. Trump was under no obligation to expose his returns," and said of the defendant before her, "He did not make a snap judgment. He made a series of decisions. This court cannot let others view this conduct as acceptable. I need to send the strongest possible message that we are a nation of laws."

Lawyers asked for leniency, media defended unauthorized leaks

According to Politico, Littlejohn's attorneys requested a lenient sentence of between one to two years in prison and claimed that he had regret and remorse for what he had done.

Meanwhile, the two media organizations that received and published the leaked tax documents defended Littlejohn's criminal acts and objected to the sentence he was given, with the Times calling the punishment "harsh" and "deeply troubling" while ProPublica compared him to a "whistleblower" who deserved "protection not prosecution."

Yet, those pleas from the defense and the media failed to sway Judge Reyes, who said Littlejohn's actions were "egregious" and ultimately accomplished nothing that couldn't have been achieved legally by other means -- such as a congressional committee obtaining Trump's same tax records through a years-long lawsuit and court proceedings.

"There was nothing noble or moral about the nature of his offense," the judge said of the defendant's actions. "It did not produce a single social good that could not have been -- has not been produced in some way by lawful means."

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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