IRS head: Impeachment resolution ‘without merit’

Greg Nash

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen is telling lawmakers that a resolution to impeach him is “without merit.”

“I believe impeachment is a wholly improper tool in this instance,” Koskinen said in a written statement to the House Judiciary Committee.

{mosads}The committee is holding a hearing Tuesday to examine Koskinen’s alleged misconduct during Congress’s investigation into the political-targeting scandal, which involved allegations of the IRS focusing scrutiny on Tea Party groups. Koskinen said he would not attend the hearing in person because he did not have enough time to prepare.

Koskinen rebutted each of the four articles of impeachment proposed in the resolution introduced last fall by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).

The first article accuses Koskinen of failing to comply with a congressional subpoena because IRS employees erased backup tapes containing thousands of emails to and from former IRS official Lois Lerner.

Koskinen responded that the IRS provided Congress with a massive amount of documents, that a Treasury Department inspector general and the Justice Department have determined that the tapes’ erasure was an accident and that no one has suggested he was personally responsible for the erasure of the tapes.

The second article accuses Koskinen of making false and misleading statements to Congress.

Koskinen, however, said he testified “truthfully and to the best of my knowledge,” and that he did not attempt to deceive Congress.

The third article accuses Koskinen of failing to promptly notify Congress about Lerner’s hard drive crash.

Koskinen said the hard drive crash was never intentionally hidden from Congress, and that the IRS went to “great lengths” to cooperate with investigations.

The fourth article alleges that Koskinen did not competently oversee the IRS’s response to Congress’s investigation. 

Koskinen said no one has suggested he impeded IRS employees’ efforts to respond to Congress’s inquiries.

“While the allegations made by some members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are serious and relate to acknowledged errors made by the IRS, the Constitution reserves the use of impeachment for ‘treason, bribery, or high crimes and misdemeanors,’ ” Koskinen said. “None of my actions relating to the issues above, viewed in light of all the facts, come close to that level.”

Koskinen also noted that the only time a nonpresident executive branch member has been impeached was in 1876, adding that “it would set an unfortunate precedent” if impeachment were pursued.

Tags Jason Chaffetz

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