Federal investigators are done with former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner, but House Republicans are not finished with the IRS.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and 18 other committee members introduced a resolution on Tuesday to begin impeachment proceedings against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
“Commissioner Koskinen violated the public trust. He failed to comply with a congressionally issued subpoena, documents were destroyed on his watch, and the public was consistently misled,” Chaffetz said in a statement Tuesday, Fox News reported. “Impeachment is the appropriate tool to restore public confidence in the IRS and to protect the institutional interests of Congress.”
“This is a serious matter. The Judiciary Committee, on which I serve, will receive the impeachment resolution and consider the facts,” California Rep. Darrell Issa added in a statement. “Commissioner Koskinen oversaw the IRS at a time when key documents responsive to congressional subpoenas were destroyed. Furthermore, in sworn testimony before the Oversight Committee during my chairmanship, he misrepresented his agency’s response to lawful inquiries into the IRS targeting scandal. The American people deserve better from their public servants, but this has become an all too familiar pattern in an Administration that chooses to misdirect, obscure and outright lie rather than truthfully describe their own actions.”
House Republicans threatened to begin the impeachment process in May 2014 when the IRS said it lost many of Lerner’s emails from 2009 through 2011 due to a broken hard drive. At the time she was under investigation by the Justice Department over her role in targeting conservative groups during the 2010 and 2012 election seasons.
The agency’s disclosure of the missing emails came shortly after The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform moved to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress. Roughly 6,400 missing documents were found by the U.S. Treasury Department last April.
The Justice Department declared its investigation of Lerner over last Friday, saying there was no evidence warranting criminal prosecutions of IRS employees.
“We found no evidence that any IRS official acted based on political, discriminatory, corrupt, or other inappropriate motives that would support a criminal prosecution,” Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik said in the letter released Friday,” WND reported. “We also found no evidence that any official involved in the handling of tax-exempt applications or IRS leadership attempted to obstruct justice. Based on the evidence developed in this investigation and the recommendation of experienced career prosecutors and supervising attorneys at the department, we are closing our investigation and will not seek any criminal charges.”
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True the Vote President Catherine Englebrecht, whose conservative organization was targeted by the IRS, told Fox News she essentially felt helpless.
“The government polices itself, and the only way you can fight back is winning an election a year from November,” Englebrecht said during an interview with Bill Hemmer on Monday.
Koskinen, who assumed his post in late 2013, testified before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday.
“The situation described in the Inspector General’s 2013 report should never have happened, and the IRS is doing everything possible to ensure that the mistakes referenced in the Inspector General’s report do not happen again,” Koskinen said in his opening statement. “Every taxpayer, whether an individual or an organization, needs to be confident that they will be treated fairly by the IRS, no matter what their political affiliation, their position on contentious political issues, or whom they supported in the last election.”
The resolution to impeach Koskinen accuses 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.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the oversight committee, dismissed the accusations against Koskinen.
“This ridiculous resolution will demonstrate nothing but the Republican obsession with diving into investigative rabbit holes that waste tens of millions of taxpayer dollars while having absolutely no positive impact on a single American,” the Maryland Democrat said in a statement, the Washington Times reported. “Calling this resolution a ‘stunt’ or a ‘joke’ would be insulting to stunts and jokes.”