Republicans move to (finally) impeach IRS director

John Koskinen

John Koskinen

Honestly, I never thought they would really do it:

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) filed an impeachment resolution on Tuesday against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, the turnaround expert who was brought in to clean up the tax agency in 2013. Mr. Chaffetz was joined by 18 fellow Republicans.

The charges focus on the destruction of magnetic tapes that contained e-mails from Lois Lerner, the former agency executive whose office gave extra scrutiny to the groups.

“John Andrew Koskinen engaged in a pattern of deception that demonstrates his unfitness to serve as Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service,” the resolution says, focusing on Mr. Koskinen’s statements last year about the agency’s efforts to retrieve documents for congressional investigations. “Commissioner Koskinen made a series of false and misleading statements to Congress in contravention of his oath to tell the truth.”

“The IRS vigorously disputes the allegations in the resolution. We have fully cooperated with all of the investigations,” the agency said in a written statement.

Of course, the IRS also said there had been no high level coordinated efforts to harass conservative and libertarian groups applying for non-profit status in the run-up to the 2012 election, and then, when that was shown to be a lie, said they couldn’t find Lois Lerner’s emails. That was also shown to be a lie. During the whole of his time in office, Commissioner Koskinen has stonewalled, obstructed, and flat-out lied to the Congress, the elected representatives of his bosses: us. His arrogance in several hearings I’ve watched has just been astounding. If not impeachment, he certainly deserves a pie in the face.

Long-time readers of this blog (all two of you) will recall that I often called for the impeachment of former Attorney General Eric Holder and that I believe Barack Obama merits impeachment and removal from office. Partly because their malfeasance and incompetence in office (1) deserve it, but also to restore some respect for Congress’ role as the representatives of the people and the states. Congress has been so reluctant to impeach and remove officials who abuse their power that it has contributed to the decline of the legislature’s status as a co-equal branch and the rise of “Crown government.” Along with denying funds, impeachment is the only weapon Congress has to hold the Executive to account.

Make no mistake, however: as the article points out, removing even a minor wretch like Mr. Koskinen will be difficult. Other than judges, Congress has gone after Executive Branch officials only twice: Grant’s Secretary of War and President Clinton, himself. Removing Koskinen requires 67 senators voting to convict, which means several Democrats would have to turn against the Obama White House, which appointed him. Ain’t gonna happen.

However, putting this malicious bureaucrat on trial would be a small first step on the road toward restoring Congress’ authority by asserting its institutional and constitutional prerogatives. In other words, you abuse your power,  you get your power taken away from you.

By all rights, this should be the first of several.

Pour encourager les autres.

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