IRS chief says impeaching him would be ‘improper’
WASHINGTON — IRS Commissioner John Koskinen spent nearly four hours Wednesday being verbally pummeled by House conservatives who want to impeach him.
But it remains unclear whether the Judiciary Committee’s questioning will convince GOP leaders to launch an impeachment probe as long as evidence of wrongdoing remains scant.
Koskinen stands accused of presiding over the IRS when the agency destroyed computer backups containing thousands of emails sought by Congress in its investigation of political targeting at the agency.
Noevidence has emerged to show that Koskinen directed or had prior knowledge of the destruction, but conservatives have pushed to hold him accountable by making him the first executive branch official to be ousted by Congress since John Koskinen testifies Wednesday in Washington. 1876.
Koskinen told lawmakers Wednesday that pursuing his impeachment would be inappropriate and counterproductive.
“I accept that it is up to you to judge my overall record, but I believe that impeachment would be improper,” he said in an opening statement. “It would create disincentives for many good people to serve. And it would slow the pace of reform and progress at the IRS.”
But Koskinen was faced with harsh questioning from GOP members of the committee, many of whom cited a double standard for IRS officials and for regular taxpayers who are accused of wrongdoing.
“You know how to dish it out, but you don’t know how to take it,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which issued a subpoena for IRS documents in 2013.
The charges are rooted in allegations that the IRS improperly targeted conservative political groups in 2010.
Koskinen was brought in afterward to clean up the agency amid several probes and told the oversight committee in 2014 that relevant records would be turned over to investigators — even though backup tapes containing emails had been destroyed months earlier.
Koskinen characterized the tapes’ destruction as an “honest mistake” by workers in an IRS warehouse in West Virginia and said he was not aware of it when he testified to Congress.