Politics

Judiciary Panel to Examine Alleged Misconduct of IRS Commissioner

Some House Republicans want to impeach Commissioner Koskinen

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, left, looks on as Jack Lew, Secretary of the Treasury, testifies during a Senate Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee hearing on the Treasury's FY2017 budget request, March 8, 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House Judiciary Committee announced on Friday that it will hold two hearings to examine the alleged misconduct of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.  

The hearings are scheduled more than half a year after House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, filed a resolution to impeach Koskinen.   

The resolution argues that Koskinen failed to comply with a subpoena requesting certain IRS documents and that he provided false and misleading information to Congress about missing emails sent to and from former IRS official Lois Lerner, a lead figure in the targeting scandal.   

[Related: The GOP's War on the IRS] The impeachment resolution falls under the Judiciary Committee's jurisdiction.  The panel will hold its first hearing on May 24, with a panel of witnesses presenting the findings of the Oversight Committee's investigation.  

Koskinen will also be invited to testify.   

In June, the Judiciary Committee will hold a second hearing with a panel of outside experts to continue the discussion from the first hearing and to explore whether congressional action against Koskinen is warranted.   

[Related: House GOP Threatens Contempt Vote for IRS Head] "As a result of the IRS’ targeting, conservative groups were singled out across the nation, resulting in lengthy paperwork requirements, overly burdensome information requests, and lengthy, unwarranted delays in their applications," Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte said in a statement.   

The Virginia Republican also said that despite repeated efforts by Congress to find out what happened, "Obama Administration officials, including the IRS Commissioner, have consistently undermined the investigation."   

[Related: IRS Uproar Intensifies] House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan called the hearings "the right first step" but said Congress should hold a vote on impeaching Koskinen.   

"Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist papers that impeachment should be used to protect the public against ‘the abuse or violation of some public trust.’ Commissioner Koskinen has most assuredly violated the public trust," the Ohio Republican said in a statement. "It’s time for him to go."  

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, a frequent critic of the IRS and Koskinen, has indicated he may not support impeachment.   

"Yes, I think this is an agency that has not been led well and this is an agency that needs to be cleaned up," the Wisconsin Republican said when he was asked about the impeachment resolution on April 14.  

But he suggested another approach.  

"What I think what we need to do is win an election, get better people in these agencies and reform the tax code so we’re not harassing the average taxpayer with a tax code that they can't even understand," he said.   

[Related: Ryan Stops Short of Backing Effort to Impeach IRS Chief] Chaffetz has attributed resistance to impeaching Koskinen to the fact that it hasn't happened to a civil officer in 140 years.  

But he said he believes his committee is "on firm ground."  

"It is in the Constitution," he said last month.   

Contact McPherson at lindseymcpherson@rollcall.com and follow her on Twitter @lindsemcpherson. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.