Former FBI Director James Comey is surrounded by reporters after testifying to the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees on Dec. 7, 2018.
CNN  — 

Rule one of politics goes like this: There’s no such thing as coincidences.

So, when a politician from, say, Illinois just happens to find himself in New Hampshire, it’s not a coincidence. Or when the governor of California runs ads bashing the governor of Florida, it’s not a coincidence.

Which brings me to the news first reported Wednesday night by The New York Times that former FBI Director James Comey and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe were both subject to special, more intensive audits of their taxes during the Trump administration. (The audits turned up little: Comey actually was owed money and McCabe owed a small amount of money that he chalked up to an “oversight.”)

What are the odds of any one person being subject to this sort of audit? The Times put it at 1 in 30,600.

Which is pretty rare! That two top officials at the Justice Department, who had both run afoul of then-President Donald Trump, were targeted by these audits? That seems very, very, very unlikely to be just a coincidence.

“It just defies logic to think that there wasn’t some other factor involved,” McCabe told CNN’s Laura Coates on Wednesday night.

That is correct.

Especially when you consider Trump’s relationship (or lack thereof) with both officials, and the ways in which he, repeatedly, demonstrated that he believed all levers of government were to be used for his own personal satisfaction.

In May 2017, in a move that stunned the political world, Trump fired Comey – the man who was in charge of the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. (Comey was informed that his 2017 tax returns were being audited in 2019.)

Trump tweeted at the time: “I did a great service to the people in firing him. Good Instincts!”

Less than a year later, McCabe, who was one of the people helping to run the Russia investigation, was fired by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The firing came just before McCabe was set to retire from the bureau. (McCabe said his 2021 audit focused on his 2019 tax returns.)

“Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI - A great day for Democracy,” Trump said via Twitter at the time. “Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!”

McCabe, now a CNN law enforcement analyst, eventually was allowed to officially retire and receive his pension following a settlement with the Justice Department in 2021.

The agreement “includes major concessions for McCabe, such as Sessions’ recommendation to fire him for lack of candor being wiped away,” according to a CNN report at the time.

Time and time again during his presidency, Trump demonstrated a flagrant lack of understanding about the role that the Justice Department should play – and the way he should interact with it.

He turned on Sessions when the former Alabama senator recused himself from the Russia investigation. Trump repeatedly tweeted that the Justice Department needed to focus on alleged crimes being committed by Democrats. He leaned on the Justice Department publicly to reduce the sentence of his onetime associate Roger Stone. (The DOJ did so, although then-Attorney General William Barr insisted it had nothing to do with Trump.) And as we’ve learned via the January 6 committee, Trump repeatedly sought to use the power of the DOJ to validate his bogus 2020 election fraud claims.

Given all of that, is it a stretch to think that the hidden hand of Trump was behind the targeting of Comey and McCabe for intensive audits after he had dismissed both of them? It is not.