Greg Nash

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen will tell the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday that impeaching him would be “improper.”

{mosads}”It would create disincentives for many good people to serve,” he said, according to prepared testimony. “And it would slow the pace of reform and progress at the IRS.” 

Koskinen will be the sole witness at Wednesday’s hearing, which is the result of an agreement between Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) to postpone a vote on an impeachment resolution that was expected last week.

Freedom Caucus members and some other conservatives have argued that Koskinen engaged in misconduct during congressional investigations into the IRS’ handling of conservative groups’ applications for tax-exempt status. They allege that Koskinen did not comply with a subpoena for former IRS official Lois Lerner’s communications, since backup tapes with some of Lerner’s emails were destroyed. They also allege that Koskinen lied under oath about the tapes and emails.

Koskinen, who took office several months after the political-targeting scandal broke, said that he “directed IRS staff to cooperate fully with Congress and to recover lost information where possible, and I testified to the best of my knowledge.”

But he also acknowledged that some of his testimony later proved to be wrong and some information that Congress requested was not preserved.

“I regret both of those failings,” he said. “I can also tell you that, with the benefit of hindsight, even closer communication with Congress would have been advisable. But my commitment is, and always has been, to tell you the truth and to address issues head on.”

Koskinen spent much of his written testimony describing the steps that the IRS has taken to improve the agency’s practices and restore taxpayers’ trust in the agency in the wake of the targeting scandal. He said that more than three years ago, the agency ended the “be on the lookout” lists that led to the improper scrutiny of a number of conservative groups.

“I believe we have made real progress during my tenure in ending the practices that gave rise to concerns, addressing operational weaknesses, creating a culture of risk management, and working to reassure taxpayers that our tax system treats taxpayers fairly,” he said.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last month said that the IRS had not stopped the targeting because several groups’ applications for tax-exempt status that were pending in 2013 have still not been resolved.

Koskinen said those groups’ applications are still pending because “the IRS has a longstanding policy of ordinarily suspending administrative action on a pending application if an issue involving the organization’s exempt status is in litigation.” However, he has asked the IRS to consult with the Justice Department and try to resolve the pending applications “as soon as practicable.” 

Koskinen said he hopes the Judiciary Committee decides not to report to the House floor a resolution to authorize formal impeachment proceedings against him.

“Should the Committee take that step, however, I am fully prepared to assist the Committee in developing a solid and vetted factual and legal record that Members can rely on to exercise their constitutional responsibility,” he said.

 

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