Politics & Policy

House Republicans: IRS Commissioner Must Go, Even if It Takes Impeachment

IRS commissioner Koskinen testifies in July 2014. (Alex Wong/Getty)

A group of House Republican lawmakers called for the ouster of IRS commissioner John Koskinen on Monday, and expressed a willingness to impeach him if he couldn’t be forced from office by other means. The call for Koskinen’s removal comes in the midst of an ongoing investigation into the IRS’s inappropriate targeting of Tea Party groups — an investigation in which Koskinen and other officials at the tax-collecting agency have been accused of stonewalling Congress.

“Mr. Koskinen should no longer be the IRS Commissioner,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) said in a statement. “At best, Commissioner Koskinen was derelict in his duties to preserve agency records. At worst, he and the IRS engaged in an orchestrated plan to hide information from Congress. Given Commissioner Koskinen’s obfuscation and misleading statements to Congress, and the false claims that key evidence was permanently destroyed, the result has been an unnecessarily protracted investigation. More importantly though, the American people will never know all the facts surrounding the agency’s targeting of conservative tax-exempt 501(c)(4) groups.”

President Obama appointed Koskinen with the promise that he would display “the absolute integrity Americans demand from those in public service,” but Republican lawmakers have grown frustrated with the IRS’s failure to produce documents sought in the House investigation during his tenure. In 2014, Koskinen promised to produce all of former IRS official Lois Lerner’s emails, without revealing that the agency already knew that her hard drive had crashed. A Treasury Department inspector general told Congress last month that the IRS destroyed her damaged hard drive without exhausting every means of obtaining her data. The backups of her hard drive were also destroyed. 

“[Investigators] took possession of the 424 backup tapes and determined that 422 of the 424 tapes were degaussed (i.e., magnetically erased) by IRS employees in Martinsburg on or around March 4, 2014, one month after the IRS realized they were missing e-mails from Lois Lerner, and approximately eight months after the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform requested ‘all documents and communications sent by, received by, or copied to Lois Lerner,’” the inspector general found.

#related#Chaffetz is calling on Obama to fire Koskinen, but House Republicans have been discussing the possibility of impeaching the agency head for months, as National Review reported in June.

“Mr. Koskinen failed in his duty to preserve and produce documentation to this Committee,” Chaffetz said. “The IRS failed to comply with a congressional subpoena. The IRS further failed by making false statements to Congress. We will pursue all constitutional remedies at our disposal, including potential contempt proceedings or perhaps impeachment of Commissioner Koskinen.”

— Joel Gehrke is a political reporter for National Review.

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