Political Editors / May 24, 2016

House Republicans Move to Impeach IRS Chief

“Providing false testimony before Congress comes with a consequence.”

Republicans sitting on the House Judiciary Committee argued Tuesday that because John Koskinen lied to Congress and dodged a congressional subpoena, the IRS chief should be impeached. It’s a notable move — Congress has only held 19 impeachment trials in the course of its history. Speaking as a witness at the hearing, Rep. Jason Chaffetz said, “Providing false testimony before Congress comes with a consequence, at least it should. It’s a crime.”

Barack Obama put Koskinen in charge of the IRS in 2013. In response to Congress seeking copies of IRS official Lois Lerner’s emails that detailed the attempt by the IRS to go after conservative nonprofit groups ahead of the 2012 election, Koskinen said the emails were destroyed. Gone forever. But then the agency’s inspector general found the backups.

Koskinen declined to appear at Tuesday’s hearing, saying he didn’t have enough time to prepare. In his written statement, Koskinen said the impeachment hearing was “unwarranted.” The Constitution, the IRS chief pointed out, directed a public official was worthy of impeachment for “treason, bribery, or high crimes and misdemeanors.” And Koskinen’s actions, according to Koskinen, didn’t rise to that level of impropriety.

Furthermore, Democrats on the Judiciary Committee accused Republicans of dragging up a tired issue and wasting money — similar arguments they use when talking about the Benghazi debacle. If Democrats were in the minority and a Republican administration used the IRS to intimidate liberal groups, we wouldn’t hear the end of it. The fact of the matter is the IRS must remain impartial. Anything less threatens the integrity of America’s tax agency.

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