Paul L. Caron

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 903

IRS Logo 2The Maddow Blog (MSNBC), GOP Begins Impeachment Process, But Not Against Obama:

For years, congressional Republicans have been very excited about the prospect of impeaching President Obama. At various times, GOP lawmakers have also considered impeaching then-Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Last week, one Republican congressman said he’s eager to impeach Hillary Clinton, and she hasn’t even won yet.

In each instance, far-right members of Congress have struggled to explain why, exactly, any of these officials actually deserve to be impeached, and Republicans never took their efforts beyond the rhetorical stage.

Yesterday’s actions, however, represent an escalation.

House Republicans filed papers Tuesday to begin impeachment proceedings against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen over the agency’s alleged campaign to revoke the tax-exempt status of tea party-affiliated groups.

The resolution – filed by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and 18 other members of the committee – accuses Koskinen of lying to Congress about agency emails that were found to be missing.

Just on the surface, it’s alarming that too many Republicans look at Congress’ impeachment power as if it were some kind of toy, to be pulled off the shelf and played with whenever it offers opportunities for entertainment.

But what’s also striking about this is the GOP lawmakers’ sense of timing. It was late last week that the Justice Department completed a lengthy and rigorous investigation into the imaginary IRS “scandal,” concluding that no laws were broken and no charges would be filed.

It’s against this backdrop that House Republicans have decided to pursue impeachment against the IRS commissioner who not only did nothing wrong, but who wasn’t even at the IRS at the time of the institution’s alleged misdeeds. ...

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 can’t rationalize.

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

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People like me were incredulous when Koskinen testified that IRS emails were stored only on individual computers and not backed up anywhere. Koskinen himself was apparently not curious about this highly unusual lack of backup, and he didn't pursue the question. He might not be well versed in computer technology, but it seems to me that he didn't really want to know the answer.

Much later, after the backup tapes had been recycled, we all discovered that backups had existed. How convenient for the parties being investigated.

If you tried this sort of willful ignorance tactic on your tax return, you'd be guilty of tax fraud. The IRS deserves a director whose honesty is above question. Based on the record, Koskinen is not that person.

Posted by: AMTbuff | Oct 29, 2015 8:29:27 AM