News & Politics

White House Scoffs at GOP Efforts to Impeach IRS Commissioner

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The Obama White House has “full confidence” in Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen, even as House Republicans call for his impeachment over his handling of the IRS scandal and he faces additional condemnation for his agency’s failure to protect taxpayer data from hackers.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest downplayed Republican calls for Koskinen’s impeachment during the daily briefing Monday.

Asked by The Blaze’s Fred Lucas whether he still has confidence in Koskinen, Earnest shot back, “Of course he does!”

“It is ridiculous for Republicans in Congress, who seek to gut funding for the IRS, in some cases, call for the outright abolition of the agency, to be a fair arbiter of the effectiveness of the IRS commissioner,” Earnest said to reporters this afternoon.

Earnest criticized Republicans, adding that Koskinen’s job was made “more difficult” thanks to Republican trying to cut funding for his agency.

“He is somebody who undertakes that work with a lot of professionalism and seriousness of purpose,” Earnest continued. “And he deserves our gratitude for his good work.”

Hackers illegally obtained about 464,000 Social Security numbers in a  cyber breach of the agency last February, while information on 330,000 taxpayers was stolen in another breach last year. During his appearance before the Senate Finance Committee last Tuesday, Koskinen admitted to the IRS’s policy of allowing illegal immigrants to use stolen Social Security numbers to find work so they can pay taxes — which he said was in everybody’s best interest. (Except of course, the victims of the identity theft.)

An investigative report by WTHR Eyewitness News last fall found that the IRS actually encourages illegal immigrants to file taxes with mismatched Social Security numbers that don’t legally belong to them. What’s more — the IRS instructs employees not to tell taxpayers when someone else uses their Social Security number to earn income, and employees who express their disapproval of this policy are threatened with punishment.

Last week, the House Freedom Caucus took to the House floor to call for Koskinen’s impeachment over his continued obstruction of the congressional investigation into the IRS targeting scandal. Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee introduced a resolution to begin the process of impeachment last October.

Another Republican lawmaker called on Koskinen to step down over the agency’s inability to improve its defenses against hacks on taxpayer data. “Commissioner Koskinen has provided little confidence that cyber security is a top priority at the IRS,” Republican Representative Barbara Comstock said in a statement on Friday to Reuters.