IRS chief won't attend his own impeachment hearing
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has refused to appear before the Judiciary Committee when they take up the case for his impeachment. Koskinen claims he didn't have sufficient time to prepare.
The commissioner is charged with a failure to preserve documents related to the targeting scandal, as well as not telling the truth about deleted emails and crashed hard drives from various IRS employees.
Some Republicans even suspect the IRS intentionally destroyed documents as part of a cover-up. And Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who took over the investigation of the IRS’ treatment of conservative nonprofits upon taking the gavel last year, will make the impeachment case against Koskinen on Tuesday morning.
Koskinen won’t be there, the IRS says in a statement, because he was not given enough notice of the hearing, which was scheduled a little over a week ago. Koskinen just returned from a trip to China during which he met with tax leaders around the world, and he’s slated to testify before a second House panel this week.
“When the committee announced this hearing, he was returning from China after meeting with tax administrators of 43 nations,” the statement reads. “The committee’s quick timetable left him without the time to fully prepare for Tuesday’s hearing. In addition, he also has been preparing for a previous commitment to appear before a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Wednesday.”
IRS spokesman Matt Leas said Koskinen “has advised the committee that he is willing to appear in the future if they desire.”
A staffer on the tax-writing committee noted that Koskinen wasn’t required to attend its hearing this week but chose to.
“The Ways and Means subcommittee initially requested that Richard Weber, the IRS criminal investigation chief, testify,” said the Republican aide. “Commissioner Koskinen insisted he attend alongside Mr. Weber.”
Although Koskinen won’t appear Tuesday, he told House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) in a letter obtained by POLITICO that “the allegations against me lack merit” and are “unwarranted.”
In his appearances before Congressional Committees, Koskinen has been dismissive of critics, arrogant, and sarcastic. He's another in a long line of IRS leaders who apparently hate conservatives and Republicans. That someone like this could be made the commissioner of a federal agency with such enormous power speaks to the vindictiveness of the Obama administration and the war they are waging against their political opponents.
Some Republicans are skeptical that a case can be made against Koskinen. Indeed, there's no smoking gun that points to clear cut malfeasance. But the case must be made, if only to warn future bureaucrats that it's their responsibility to cooperate with Congress while being as evenhanded as possible in the administration of the law.