News & Politics

House Freedom Caucus Renews Push to Impeach IRS Chief

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen, testifies before a Senate Finance Committee hearing (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus renewed the Republican push to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen Thursday evening, hoping to jumpstart a resolution that stalled in committee after it was introduced last fall. Republicans argue that Koskinen is unfit to serve as the head of the tax collection agency due to his continued obstruction of the congressional investigation into the IRS targeting scandal.

Led by Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee introduced a resolution to begin the process of impeachment last October. Afterward, Chaffetz’s staff hand delivered copies of the impeachment articles to every member of Congress. Sixty-two lawmakers co-sponsored the legislation.

Since then—for whatever reason—House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., has not moved forward with the proceedings.

During the special order on the House floor, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) reviewed how the IRS scandal first came to be and then proceeded under Commissioner Koskinen’s watch.

“When you have individuals running an agency with the power of the Internal Revenue Service doing what was done under Commissioner Koskinen’s watch, he in fact should be impeached,” Jordan said. He added:

The very lady (Lois Lerner) who was at the center of the storm, who lied when she first made this public, gets brought in front of the Congress and what’s she do? She takes the Fifth. So when you have the central figure exercising their Fifth Amendment right, not willing to testify in public and answer the people’s representatives’ questions, it sort of puts a premium on getting the documents and the communications that the IRS had relative to this issue. So three preservation orders, two subpoenas in place, and the commissioner, under his watch, 422 backup tapes are destroyed containing 24,000 emails. And what’s Mr. Koskinen do when he learns about problems with these tapes and problems with Ms. Lerner’s hard drive? He waits four months before he tells Congress. That’s why we filed these articles of impeachment and that’s why we are asking that they move forward in the Judiciary Committee and we do what the American people sent us here to do.

Separately, another Republican lawmaker called on Koskinen to step down Friday over the agency’s inability to improve its defenses against hacks on taxpayer data.

Republican Representative Barbara Comstock said new leadership is needed to replace IRS Commissioner John Koskinen due to failures to secure Americans’ sensitive information from malicious intrusions, escalating a line of attack from Republicans who frequently criticize the federal tax collection service.

“Commissioner Koskinen has provided little confidence that cyber security is a top priority at the IRS,” Comstock said in a statement shared with Reuters, adding she was concerned the agency apparently has no one in charge of cyber security.

House Speaker Paul Ryan however signaled Thursday that he doesn’t support any move to impeach Koskinen, saying instead he hoped a Republican White House could pick its own IRS chief next year.