The long-simmering war between Republicans in Congress and the Internal Revenue Service is escalating, with the news that the House Judiciary Committee will hold hearings that could lead to the impeachment of IRS Director John Koskinen.
Koskinen, an experienced businessman who later moved into public service, was brought in to run the beleaguered IRS in 2013 after the revelation that conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status were targeted for special examination by IRS officials.
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He stepped into a firestorm in taking the job. Congressional committees were already investigating the agency and Koskinen was frequently brought up to Capitol Hill to face intensely hostile questioning from lawmakers, frequently regarding things that happened before he arrived at the agency. The agency’s admission that it had failed to retain all the work emails sent and received by Lois Lerner, a key figure in the scandal, followed by a series of other failures to produce additional emails and the destruction of computer equipment that GOP lawmakers described as evidence, further soured Koskinen’s relationship with lawmakers.
In October of last year, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, introduced a motion to impeach Koskinen. “Commissioner Koskinen violated the public trust,” Chaffetz said. “He failed to comply with a congressionally issued subpoena, documents were destroyed on his watch, and the public was consistently misled.”
On Friday, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the Virginia Republican who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, announced two hearings, the first of which will take place on May 24 and will review the results of the oversight committee’s investigation into Koskinen. Koskinen himself will be invited to testify. In the second hearing, lawmakers will hear advice from outside experts as to whether or not impeachment proceedings are justified.
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“The fact that officials at the IRS wielded their power to target certain Americans for their political views is both outrageous and contrary to our nation’s values,” Goodlatte said in a statement. “Our government is supposed to work for all Americans, not for a particular partisan agenda. As a result of the IRS’ targeting, conservative groups were singled out across the nation, resulting in lengthy paperwork requirements, overly burdensome information requests, and lengthy, unwarranted delays in their applications.
“Despite repeated congressional efforts to get to the bottom of this matter, Obama Administration officials, including the IRS Commissioner, have consistently undermined the investigation. Over the coming weeks, the House Judiciary Committee will closely examine Commissioner Koskinen’s misconduct and the implications of his actions.”
The IRS had not commented on the announcement as of Friday afternoon.