UPDATE 2 – 5/23, 4:19 p.m. EST: IRS commissioner John Koskinen said Monday that he will not appear at his impeachment hearing held by the House Judiciary Committee scheduled for Tuesday.
In lieu of his attendance, Koskinen submitted an official statement, seven-pages long, which says that the charges leveled against him for his role in the IRS’ targeting of particular political organizations is “without merit”.
UPDATE – 5/18, 3:02 p.m. EST: Politico is reporting that House Freedom Caucus leaders, Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mark Meadows (R-NC), forced Speaker Paul Ryan in a private meeting to allow Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) to bring up impeachment hearings against IRS commissioner Koskinen.
Specifically two of the most conservative members of the House threatened the Speaker with a little-known parliamentary procedure referred to as “privileged resolution” to bring an impeachment vote directly to the floor without committee approval.
Some Tea Party congress members seem to be holding a grudge against Koskinen for his role in covering up evidence in an investigation of the IRS for targeting conservative political advocacy groups prior to his arrival at the agency in 2013.
Two years following his contentious testimony in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform regarding allegations the Internal Revenue Service‘s (IRS) tax-exempt division sought to impede the political activity of conservative groups, IRS commissioner John Koskinen will return to face the House Committee on the Judiciary, which is considering his impeachment.
Koskinen is thought to have misled Congress and violated the terms of a congressional subpoena.
Commissioner Koskinen failed to fulfill his duty to the American people by allowing back-up tapes containing potentially 24,000 emails to be destroyed. He failed to inform Congress about the destruction of these back-up tapes in a timely manner. He gave false testimony before Congress regarding the back-up tapes, and then refused to correct the record when given the opportunity,” read a statement from committee member Jim Jordan (R-OH).
A spokesperson for the IRS said Mr. Koskinen was “focusing on work.”
The potential impeachment proceedings revolve around Mr. Koskinen’s 2014 testimony where he stated former commissioner Lois Lerner was not blameworthy for the destruction of hard drives, the loss of her e-mail communications and “backup tapes” which were erased, all of which were connected to the denial of tax-exempt status to conservative groups.
Months later, the IRS’ Inspector General’s office recovered over 30,000 Lerner e-mails. When examined, Lerner’s correspondence revealed she had characterized conservative groups as “crazies” and had contemplated prosecuting some conservative groups.
A Treasury Department official later told the House Oversight Committee Lerner’s e-mails “were right where you would expect them to be,” a statement which contradicted Koskinen’s earlier claim of the destruction of records.
A Justice Department inquiry cleared Lerner in 2015.
Mr. Koskinen will begin testimony on May 24.
[CNN] [Washington Times] [AP]