IRS chief: Republicans 'don't want this to end'

The IRS commissioner says Republicans who are investigating the scrutiny of Tea Party groups veer among story lines in an attempt to keep the controversy alive.

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“There are some people who don't want a straight story,” John Koskinen, the commissioner, told Tax Analysts in a new interview. “They don't want this to end.”

Koskinen has faced a new intensity in the GOP investigations into the IRS in recent weeks, after he told lawmakers that the agency couldn’t recover an untold number of Lois Lerner’s emails.

Lerner, now the central figure in the IRS controversy, was the first agency official to acknowledge the improper scrutiny of Tea Party groups. The agency blames the loss of her emails on a hard-drive crash in 2011.

GOP lawmakers have sharply questioned Koskinen, who has testified four times in just the last six weeks before House committees. Republicans are also increasing the pressure on the IRS in the heat of an election year.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) suggested in Koskinen’s most recent appearance that the IRS wouldn’t have even disclosed the missing Lerner emails if Congress and other outside groups hadn’t forced their hand.

Republicans have also accused the IRS of shifting its own story, and for slowly handing out information to investigators.

The IRS chief defended his agency’s handling of the investigation, insisting that Republicans have latched on to a variety of theories and never acknowledge it if they’re proven wrong.

“The committee is very quick and they'll go to something else. They won't concede error. They'll say it was worth pursuing,” Koskinen said. “Whether it was worth making a federal case out of it or not is another issue.”

Koskinen also warned Republicans, who are increasingly pushing Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS, to be careful what they wish for.

“I'm not sure if people really want a special prosecutor, because that would shut everything down,” he said.

“The special prosecutor then would have sole domain over this and so you wouldn't be holding all these fun hearings every week or two.”