TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1109

IRS Logo 2The Maddow Blog:  Republicans Get Serious About Impeachment, But Not Obama’s, by Steve Benen:

Quick quiz: when was the last time the U.S. Congress actually impeached an appointed executive branch official? It was 1876 – 140 years ago – when the House impeached Ulysses S. Grant’s War Secretary, William Belknap, over corruption allegations.

Nearly a century and a half later, House Republicans appear eager to give Belknap some company. The Washington Post reported yesterday:

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) introduced a resolution on Wednesday to censure IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, raising the stakes in the GOP war against the tax collector days before a hearing on whether to impeach him.

The four-page resolution seeks Koskinen’s resignation or removal by President Obama and calls on the IRS chief to forfeit his federal pension.

Chaffetz, the far-right chairman of the House Oversight Committee, explained in a statement yesterday, “I view censure as a precursor to impeachment.” He added a few weeks ago, “My foremost goal is impeachment and I’m not letting go of it.”

No, of course not. That might be responsible.

By any sane metric, the idea of congressional impeachment against the IRS commissioner is bonkers. House Republicans are apparently still worked up about an IRS “scandal” that doesn’t exist, and though Koskinen wasn’t even at the agency at the time of the alleged wrongdoing, GOP lawmakers want to impeach him because they disapprove of his handling of the imaginary controversy. ...

[G]iven the fact that Koskinen hasn’t actually committed any impeachable offenses, it’s hard not to get the impression that many House Republicans want to impeach someone, anyone, just for the sake of being able to say they impeached someone. ...

I continue to believe much of this is borne of partisan frustration: Republican investigations into Benghazi and other manufactured “scandals,” including the IRS matter itself, have effectively evaporated into nothing. That’s deeply unsatisfying to GOP hardliners, who remain convinced there’s Obama administration wrongdoing lurking right around the corner, even if they can’t see it, find it, prove it, or substantiate it any way.

Unwilling to move on empty handed, impeaching the IRS chief will, if nothing else, make Republican lawmakers feel better about themselves.

But that doesn’t change the fact that this partisan tantrum is indefensible. Koskinen took on the job of improving the IRS out of a sense of duty – the president asked this veteran public official to tackle a thankless task, and Koskinen reluctantly agreed. For his trouble, Republicans want to impeach him, for reasons even they’ve struggled to explain.

It’s ridiculous, even by the low standards of this Congress.

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/05/the-irs-scandal-day-1109.html

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Comments

"[G]iven the fact that Koskinen hasn’t actually committed any impeachable offenses"

Really??? How about lying to a Congressional committee?

Posted by: Kent Feldsted | May 22, 2016 8:32:26 AM

Don't forget obstruction of justice and destroying evidence.

Posted by: TriggerFinger | May 22, 2016 11:28:34 AM

Presumably you have the transcript. Page and line please?

Posted by: Publius Novus | May 22, 2016 12:44:39 PM

Lol, Publius. You have been following this. You know the times he lied to congress. Asking someone for information you already know to be true seems like arguing in bad faith.

Posted by: wodun | May 22, 2016 4:30:07 PM

Mr. wodun: Page and line please. A lie is an intentional and material misstatement of fact. The intentional part is key. A mere misstatement is not a lie. Confusion is not lying; providing best available information, later determined to be incorrect, is not a lie. So page and line please.

Posted by: Publius Novus | May 23, 2016 11:34:31 AM

No need for a transcript, Publius, we have video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Ax6QGmKhRwo

Tha'ts from 03/26/14, where Commissioner Koskinen states that *ALL* emails were archived and would be turned over. On 06/13/14, the IRS informed congressional investigators that the subpoened emails from Jan. 2009 through Apr. 2011 had been lost in mid-2011 due to a computer crash. Call it a lie, or call it incorrect, from a legal standpoint the statement was factually incorrect.

But Maddow Blog is probably right, this is a "non-scandal". Given all the facts that have come to light to date, no reasonable person could ever come to the conclusion that anything suspicious or illegal went on at the IRS, right? After all, there's nothing suspicious about officials taking the 5th, or destroying evidence, accidentually of course, or making factually incorrect statements, inadvertently, or stonewalling congressinal oversight, coincidentially, right?

And there was nothing suspicious about veterans waiting for medical care at the VA, and then dying, after which waiting list records were altered, coincidentially, right? Nothing suspicious about the NSA collecting everyone's cell phone and email records in secret without a warrant, after which NSA officials lied about doing so before Congress, and the whole program was ultimately declared illegal by a U.S. Federal judge, right? Certainly nothing suspicious about the ATF/DOJ funneling weapons to drug cartels in Mexico, some of which ended up in the hands of El Chapo, after which congressional oversight was stonewalled again, and the Attorney General was held in criminal contempt for withholding evidence, right?

Nothing suspicious about any of this stuff, I completely agree.

Posted by: MM | May 23, 2016 11:56:20 AM