House moves to impeach IRS commissioner
Carrying through on a threat made last summer, House Republicans introduced a resolution to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, accusing him of making "false statements" under oath and failing to comply with a subpoena for evidence.
The FBI announced last week that no criminal charges would be forthcoming in the IRS scandal, which spurred conservatives to action.
"Commissioner Koskinen violated the public trust," Chaffetz said in a statement Tuesday. "He failed to comply with a congressionally issued subpoena, documents were destroyed on his watch, and the public was consistently misled.
"Impeachment is the appropriate tool to restore public confidence in the IRS and to protect the institutional interests of Congress."
The IRS issued a statement later Thursday saying, "The IRS vigorously disputes the allegations in the resolution. We have fully cooperated with all of the investigations."
The announcement of the impeachment resolution comes on the same day Koskinen testified before the Senate Finance Committee, and after the Justice Department on Friday decided to close its investigation of the targeting scandal without pursuing criminal charges.
Koskinen took over in late 2013, after the scandal broke over IRS agents subjecting conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status to additional scrutiny.
But he faced questions over statements he made in the course of various investigations. The resolution containing articles of impeachment accused him of "high crimes and misdemeanors" over the following allegations:
- That he failed to preserve IRS records in accordance with a congressional subpoena; the resolution notes the IRS erased hundreds of backup tapes containing potentially thousands of emails from Lois Lerner, the former official at the heart of the controversy.
- That he made "false and misleading statements" to Congress, including claiming "nothing" had been "lost" or "destroyed."
- That he did not notify Congress of missing emails until June 2014, despite allegedly being aware earlier.
Koskinen's appearances before congressional committees were marked by arrogance, lack of openess, disrespect of members, lies, and a disturbingly cavalier attitude toward the actions of his agency. Of course, Democrats in the Senate will stand behind him, which makes his conviction a remote possibility. But there is a feeling among conservatives that the abuse must be exposed, regardless of whether he is convicted or not.
The administration may have successfully run out the clock on impeaching anyone for the IRS targeting of conservatives. No doubt Koskinen's lawyers will offer a blizzard of motions to delay the proceedings as long as possible. But even if Koskinen leaves office, the impeachment should proceed, putting Congress on record that there is zero tolerance in government for using a federal agency to attack one's political opponents.