IRS head vows to finish term despite impeachment push

IRS head vows to finish term despite impeachment push
© Cameron Lancaster

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen says he has no plans to leave his position early, even though some Republicans are trying to impeach him.

"I've got another year-and-a half to go on my term, and I expect to fulfill the full term," Koskinen told reporters Wednesday, one day after several Republicans pressed for his impeachment during a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

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Koskinen said he did not attend the hearing because he did not have time to fully prepare. He spoke to reporters after a House Ways and Means subcommittee hearing Wednesday on a different topic.

Koskinen's term expires in November 2017. He said came out of retirement and took the IRS job in 2013 — shortly after it was revealed that the agency had subjected Tea Party groups' applications for tax-exempt status to extra scrutiny — because he understood "the significance of the IRS."

"We've got a lot of important work to do, and I signed on for the term," Koskinen said.

He added that it's important to assure IRS employees "that while there are attractions to being retired, I really am committed to continue to working with the employees through the end of my term."

During the Judiciary Committee hearing, Reps. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzCongress's latest hacking investigation should model its most recent Fox News Audio expands stable of podcasts by adding five new shows The myth of the conservative bestseller MORE (R-Utah) and Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) accused Koskinen of failing to comply with a subpoena, since tapes containing emails of former IRS official Lois Lerner were erased. They also said Koskinen made false statements under oath.

But Koskinen defended his conduct.

"There's no evidence anywhere that people misled the Congress," Koskinen said. "Every time I testified, I testified truthfully on what I knew. ... To the extent that later information comes out, that doesn't mean that you weren't testifying truthfully."

He also said the erasure of the tapes was an accident and that an inspector general said no one did anything to obstruct Congress's investigation.

Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, introduced a resolution to impeach Koskinen last fall. More recently, he introduced a resolution to censure Koskinen, which he has called a "precursor" to impeachment.

Koskinen said the censure resolution is based on the same allegations as the impeachment resolution.

"If there's no basis in the facts for an impeachment resolution, then I don't think there's any basis for a censure resolution," Koskinen said.

He said he'd testify before the Judiciary Committee in the future if asked.

"Whatever they think is the next appropriate step, I've made it clear that I will cooperate," he said.

Koskinen said he hired the WilmerHale law firm last week "simply because if we're actually going to treat this seriously, it's a serious matter." He added that he will pay for the legal representation with his own funds.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteFight breaks out between Jordan, Nadler over rules about showing video at Garland hearing The job of shielding journalists is not finished Bottom line MORE (R-Va.) did not allow a written statement from Koskinen to be added to the hearing's record, after Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Ted PoeLloyd (Ted) Theodore PoeSheila Jackson Lee tops colleagues in House floor speaking days over past decade Senate Dem to reintroduce bill with new name after 'My Little Pony' confusion Texas New Members 2019 MORE (R-Texas) objected to the statement's inclusion.

Koskinen said he was "comfortable" with Goodlatte's decision and understood why he did it.