House conservatives ‘committed’ to impeaching IRS chief

Cameron Lancaster

Days before the House leaves town for the long summer recess, Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said on Wednesday that his group of conservative hard-liners is “committed” to impeaching Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen.

{mosads}“We’ve been very clear: We think Mr. Koskinen should go. We’re committed to that happening,” Jordan said at a news conference where the Freedom Caucus unveiled its election-year agenda. “We’re committed to doing it, and we obviously are not going to preclude any options until we accomplish that goal.”

The most glaring of those options is the possibility of a Freedom Caucus member bringing a privileged motion to the floor to force an impeachment vote — something Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and his leadership team believe would be too severe and cause an unnecessary intraparty fight right before the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

The Hill first reported in May that Jordan and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) had met with Ryan in the Speaker’s office and threatened to force an impeachment vote on the floor unless GOP-led committees held hearings to impeach Koskinen. Meadows gained notoriety last year for filing a similar motion that eventually led to the ouster of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Days after the Jordan-Meadows-Ryan powwow, Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) announced his panel would hold a pair of hearings examining alleged abuses by the top IRS official. The Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), passed a resolution censuring Koskinen, but Judiciary has yet to take any formal action.

Now, Freedom Caucus leaders are threatening to force a floor vote on the impeachment resolution themselves unless Ryan commits to a committee vote on articles of impeachment within a definite timeframe, lawmakers said.

The group this week also could take a page out of Meadows’s playbook and file an unprivileged impeachment resolution that would not require House action. That way, the resolution would hang out there over the seven-week summer recess, putting pressure on GOP lawmakers as they spend time back home in their districts.

Koskinen’s attorneys have asked GOP leaders to give the IRS chief an opportunity to defend himself against the allegations before any formal action is taken.

Taking questions from reporters Wednesday, Jordan ticked through the reasons why the Freedom Caucus believes Koskinen should be fired. The commissioner mishandled thousands of IRS emails that had been ordered protected under a preservation order, Jordan said, and then misled members of Congress about what had happened.

“You have that track record, and you couple that with the underlying events that [the IRS] targeted people based on their political beliefs,” Jordan said. “For goodness’ sake. If you can’t get rid of him, then c’mon.”

The Justice Department’s decision last week not to indict presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for her own mishandling of classified emails while secretary of State should put more pressure on Republicans to impeach Koskinen, said Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas), a co-founder of the Freedom group.

“With the non-indictment of Hillary Clinton, there is an even greater impetus that we hold someone accountable in this administration in seven and a half years,” Huelskamp said.

“Clearly, this gentleman needs to be impeached.”


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