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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - WASHINGTON — A former US tax worker has pleaded guilty to the unauthorised leak of ex-president Donald Trump's personal tax records to news organizations.
Charles Littlejohn, a contractor for the IRS, the US-wide tax body, also stole tax data from thousands of other wealthy Americans.
Trump's lawyers opposed any plea deal and called for Littlejohn to be handed the maximum penalty.
He faces up to five years in prison.
Littlejohn was charged last month with leaking Trump's tax records, as well as the details of other wealthy Americans. He is due to be sentenced in January.
In court on Thursday, he admitted to one count of disclosing tax return information.
Asked by the court to identify whose information he disclosed, he said aloud "Donald J Trump", according to CBS News, the BBC's US partner.
He also said that he gave information about Trump's taxes to US media outlets — the New York Times and ProPublica.
Neither organization is accused of any wrongdoing.
In court, Judge Ana Reyes, who was appointed by President Joe Biden, told the defendant: "I cannot overstate how troubled I am by what occurred."
"Make no mistake — this was not acceptable."
"When we have people who for whatever reason take the law into their own hands, society doesn't function properly," the judge added.
Alina Habba, a lawyer for Trump, said that her client opposed any plea deal and called for Littlejohn to be handed the maximum penalty.
She said the "egregious breach" may have cost Trump votes in the 2020 election, and referred to Littlejohn's conduct as an "atrocity".
Trump broke modern American political tradition in 2016 when he refused to disclose his tax returns as a candidate for the White House.
When the data was leaked, it showed that Trump paid a shockingly low amount in taxes.
A 2020 article in The New York Times, which is thought to have been based on the leaked information, claimed that Trump paid just $750 (£580) in federal income tax both in 2016, the year he ran for the US presidency, and in his first year in the White House.
The newspaper also said that he paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years and that the records reveal "chronic losses and years of tax avoidance".
Other Americans who had their tax data stolen by Littlejohn include Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.
There are so many victims that the court plans to set up a database to keep them informed on developments in the case, CNN reported. — BBC
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