A Washington-based government watchdog is warning President Trump to “clean house at the IRS as quickly as possible” – or, better yet, eliminate the “corrupt” agency altogether.
The Internal Revenue Service admitted to a federal court Wednesday that it has identified nearly 7,000 documents that contain information concerning how the agency targeted tax-exempt applications of conservative political organizations.
IRS commissioner John Koskinen has insisted since the scandal broke in 2013 that the agency had cooperated completely in the investigation of its targeting of conservative groups. Now, in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the IRS revealed it has 6,924 documents related to its targeting of tea-party conservatives during the Obama administration.
Washington-based government watchdog Judicial Watch filed the suit against the IRS in 2015 to determine how the agency selected individuals and organizations for audits after they requested nonprofit tax status.
Despite court orders forcing officials to admit the existence of the records, the IRS refuses to say when it will release the documents to the public.
“At this time, the Service is unable to provide an estimate regarding when it will complete its review of the potentially responsive documents,” the IRS Status Report states. “The Service will begin producing any non-exempt, responsive documents by March 10, 2017, and, if necessary, continue to produce non-responsive records on a bi-weekly basis.”
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, described the revelation as a significant breakthrough.
“The corruption at the IRS is astounding,” Fitton said in a statement. “Our attorneys knew that there were more records to be searched, but the Obama IRS ignored this issue for years. President [Donald] Trump needs to clean house at the IRS as quickly as possible.”
In fact, Fitton said Trump should go a step further and completely “eliminate” the IRS altogether.
“Putting lipstick on a pig is still a pig,” Fitton told WND. “But in the meantime, there has got to be significant reform and accountability for what went on in the past.”
Beginning in 2010 and continuing for more than 18 months, the IRS developed and followed a faulty policy to determine whether the applicants were engaged in political activities, a 2013 report by the IRS inspector general found.
Organizations whose names included the terms “tea party” or “patriots” underwent lengthier questioning about activities or were ultimately disqualified from receiving tax-exempt status.
But the targeting of conservative groups and organizations was a scandal that involved more federal agencies than just the IRS, Fitton explained.
“What many folks just don’t understand is that it was more than just the abuse of the IRS,” he said. “The IRS was also working with the Justice Department and the FBI.”
Judicial Watch released documents obtained from the Department of Justice and IRS in 2015 that reveal a plot to pursue criminal charges against opponents of the Obama administration. The documents exposed the extensive collaboration among the IRS, DOJ and FBI in targeting conservative organizations.
Records revealed that the IRS provided the FBI with 21 computer disks that contained confidential IRS information from 113,000 nonprofit social 501(c)(4) welfare groups as part of the targeting effort.
An investigation into the scandal by the House Ways and Means Committee further produced evidence that the Obama administration’s Treasury Department and former IRS official Lois Lerner even conspired to create new 501(c)(4) regulations to restrict the activity of conservative groups.
The IRS was aware that agents were discriminating against “tea-party” groups under President Obama’s watch and “jumping to negative conclusions” as far back as 2011, according to documents released by Judicial Watch in November 2016.
Confirming the long-standing accusations, Lois Lerner, the IRS official who oversaw tax-exempt groups, apologized in 2013 for the agency’s targeting of conservative groups.
Nevertheless, no one at the IRS has been held accountable for the targeting.
As President Trump pledges to “drain the swamp,” some top conservatives argue that there is no better place to focus those efforts than restoring the credibility of the IRS and demanding the resignation of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
Koskinen was nominated by President Obama in 2013, and his term is set to end Nov. 13, unless Trump removes him first.
“President Trump should fire Commissioner Koskinen and replace him with someone that will bring integrity and competence to the IRS,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., told Fox News Tuesday.
Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker, R-N.C., along with 53 other House Republicans, also wrote Trump a letter just days after he took office urging the new president to strip Koskinen of his title.
“The consideration of the impeachment of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in the House in late 2016 was a clear indication that Congress and the American people have no confidence in Commissioner Koskinen or his ability to discharge his duties,” Walker wrote, citing statutory language giving Trump authority to remove Koskinen.
Koskinen’s firing, he claimed, would “restore the credibility” of the federal tax authority.
“We have not received a response to our letter,” an aide at the Republican Study Committee told Fox News. “We understand, however, the administration remains busy putting its team in place, and we look forward to its response.”