One of the indelible hallmarks of the Obama administration has been it’s total and systematic contempt for Congress and congressional oversight. It was bad enough when the Attorney General, was cited for contempt of Congress. Now, however, things have gone a step further. Last week we posted on an attempt by the House Judiciary Committee to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen base on a long running pattern of lies and deceptions intended to obscure IRS policies that targeted conservative groups for increased scrutiny. Koskinen decided he was just too busy to show up.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen will not appear Tuesday at a “misconduct” hearing at which Republicans will lay out a case to impeach him for allegedly failing to comply with a congressional subpoena, the IRS told POLITICO.
Lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee summoned the tax chief to answer accusations from the House Oversight panel that he failed to preserve documents Congress requested for its probe of the IRS tea party scandal. They also say Koskinen didn’t tell the full truth about erased backup tapes containing copies of emails belonging to former IRS official Lois Lerner.
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Some Republicans even suspect the IRS intentionally destroyed documents as part of a cover-up. And Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who took over the investigation of the IRS’ treatment of conservative nonprofits upon taking the gavel last year, will make the impeachment case against Koskinen on Tuesday morning.
Koskinen won’t be there, the IRS says in a statement, because he was not given enough notice of the hearing, which was scheduled a little over a week ago. Koskinen just returned from a trip to China during which he met with tax leaders around the world, and he’s slated to testify before a second House panel this week.
“When the committee announced this hearing, he was returning from China after meeting with tax administrators of 43 nations,” the statement reads. “The committee’s quick timetable left him without the time to fully prepare for Tuesday’s hearing. In addition, he also has been preparing for a previous commitment to appear before a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Wednesday.”
IRS spokesman Matt Leas said Koskinen “has advised the committee that he is willing to appear in the future if they desire.”
A staffer on the tax-writing committee noted that Koskinen wasn’t required to attend its hearing this week but chose to.
“The Ways and Means subcommittee initially requested that Richard Weber, the IRS criminal investigation chief, testify,” said the Republican aide. “Commissioner Koskinen insisted he attend alongside Mr. Weber.”
Sure enough, he wasn’t there. Via Rep. Blake Farenhold (TX-27)
— Blake Farenthold (@farenthold) May 24, 2016
But the process has started:
By allowing the House Judiciary committee to embark of this undertaking, the House leadership is putting its credibility and the credibility of the US Senate at stake. Can an agency head lie to Congress in writing and under oath, ignore the directions of his oversight committee, and essentially tell a Congressional committee to FOAD without repercussions? If he can then we no longer live in the same nation we lived in last month.