Republicans move to (finally) impeach IRS director

October 28, 2015
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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Impeachment: the Democrats’ briar-patch strategy

August 13, 2014

briar patch

You can tell the Democrats are desperately worried about the upcoming elections. How, you ask? Well, instead of running on their “accomplishments” –you know, Obamacare, the economy, foreign affairs, and other stunning successes (1)– the Democrats and their flacks in the MSM have running around with their hair on fire screaming that those radical, knuckle-dragging RAAAAACIST!!! Republicans are going to impeach President Obama. In fact, they’ve been fundraising like crazy off the idea.

Anyway, the latest barker in this carnival sideshow has been Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC):

and

That last is the key: with only a lousy record to run on, the Democrats have to resort to scare tactics to get their base motivated. The generic congressional ballot, a poll that measures party preference between “any Republican” and “any Democrat,” just looks bad for them (2). And if their core voters don’t get motivated and instead stay home, “bad” could easily turn to “God-awful.”

Hence the cries of “OMG! Impeachment alert!”

Now, mind you, Obama deserves impeachment and removal from office. Not only is he dangerously incompetent, but his contempt for our constitutional settlement risks doing grave damage to our political system. Not since Nixon, perhaps even in the history of our Republic, has there been a president who so richly merited it. I dare say I’d be willing to put up with “President Biden” (3), if I thought we could carry it off. It would at least provide a good reminder to future presidents that there are indeed limits to what they can get away with.

But it won’t work, not with Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader, and probably not even after the Republicans (likely) takeover of the Senate in 2015. There’s just no way that we could command the two-thirds of the Senate needed for removal, absent Obama declaring himself emperor. And perhaps even then, given the Democrats’ loyalty to their party and their donors over their duty to the Constitution.

Also, we’re lacking an element that’s key to a successful presidential impeachment: broad public consensus that it needs to be done. Former US Attorney Andrew McCarthy has written an important book, Faithless Execution, detailing both the strong constitutional grounds for impeaching Obama and the need for the electorate’s agreement before that can be done successfully. If you’re going to overturn an election and reelection, the nation has to be onboard. Forcing a trial before the political spade work has been done will only roil the nation to no end, likely end in an acquittal that would be interpreted as vindicating Obama in his abuses, and probably turn large segments of the uncommitted middle away from the Republicans, whom they would blame for the turmoil, thanks to Obama’s praetorian guard in the media.

This would not be good for us in the coming elections; thus, it is exactly what the Democrats want. They are Br’er Rabbit and they want us to throw them in that briar patch.

Let’s not do Jim Clyburn any favors.

via The Hill

PS: I’ve described my preferred strategy here.

Footnotes:
(1) Insert sarcasm as needed.
(2) Democrats typically have a decent lead in that poll. When Republicans are roughly tied or have a lead, it’s considered a Very Bad Omen for the Donkey Party’s fortunes.
(3) As long as he promised not to touch anything.


Speaker’s Boehner’s meaningless, craven lawsuit

June 25, 2014
"Timid"

“Timid”

Pathetic. Speaker John Boehner announced plans for the House to sue President Obama in court to force him to do his job and enforce the laws. Without being specific about the grounds of the suit, one can safely assume it covers Obama’s non-enforcement of immigration laws along the southwest border and, perhaps, the administration’s unilateral rewrites and illegal waivers of the Affordable Care Act and it’s serial failure to cooperate in the IRS investigations.

Speaking to the press, Boehner added the following:

Boehner strongly brushed aside a question of whether impeachment proceedings could result from the suit. “This is not about impeachment. This is about his (Obama’s) faithfully executing the laws of our country,” he said.

Pardon me a moment; I was rolling my eyes so hard on reading that, I was getting dizzy.

Mr. Speaker, on taking office, every president swears the following oath:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The President is Chief Magistrate of the United States, its top federal law-enforcer. “Faithfully execute” means doing that job. If you are suing because the president has broken his oath by not faithfully executing the duties of his office, then you have perforce invoked grounds for impeachment by reason of maladministration.

You’ve said it, so don’t go denying in the next breath what we all know it means. Leave being a weasel to the Democrats.

More:

He also rejected a suggestion that the suit was designed to give traditional Republican voters a reason for going to the polls this fall when control of Congress will be at stake.

“This is about defending the institution in which we serve,” he said. “What we’ve seen clearly over the last five years is an effort to erode the power of the legislative branch.”

Argh. The Congress has been surrendering legislative power to the Executive, more under Democrats, less so under Republicans, since the Progressive era. More and more regulatory authority has been given to panels of bureaucrats in the guise of “rule making,” when really it amounts to the power to make law. It’s more accurate to say this process has greatly expanded under Obama, who pushes the bounds like no president has since FDR (or maybe Nixon), but let’s not pretend this hasn’t been going on for a long time. If the Congress were truly interested in “defending its prerogatives,” as Madison intended, it has had plenty of opportunities, but has done so only fitfully.

You want to “defend the institution” in which you serve? Then forget the ridiculous lawsuit (and Senator Paul’s and Senator Johnson’s); you don’t resolve political power struggles between the legislature and the presidency by running crying to the courts (1). You have two powers: cutting off funds and impeachment. The former seems to be ineffective, but you have the latter. As I wrote yesterday:

I’d suggest forming another [House Select Investigating Committee] for the IRS scandal and one for Fast and Furious, both with full subpoena powers and special counsel hired to lead the inquiries. They all should work through the summer and, when done, present their findings to the full House. Forget the Department of Justice; it can’t be trusted with Eric Holder in charge. Instead, the House should impeach whomever is found culpable by the investigations.

While impeaching the President himself isn’t politically practical (yet), his political appointees bear the same responsibility as he: faithful execution of the laws and obedience to the Constitution. If committee investigations find any derelict in their duties, such as top management at the IRS, impeach them, place them on trial before the Senate, and make Harry Reid defend their abuses of power. Fence Obama in by taking away his minions.

That’s how you defend the institution, Mr. Speaker. If you really want to.

Footnote:
(1) For one thing, the courts rely on the Executive to enforce their orders. If you can’t trust Obama to enforce the laws…

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


IRS scandal: forget the special counsel. Instead, impeach.

June 24, 2014
Johnson impeachment trial

Let the trials begin

The growing frustration with the various scandals of the Obama administration have lead to repeated calls from the Opposition for special prosecutors to investigate and, if warranted, to criminally prosecute violators, most recently in the IRS scandal. For example, there’s Bryan Preston of PJ Media:

Congressional hearings make for mediocre TV and a poor vehicle for investigating the targeting of conservatives by our own government. It will take a special prosecutor who will go below the level of IRS chief and get to the people who were around when Lerner’s emails were supposedly lost, and who will depose them, look through contracts, find the inconsistencies and build a case. All the rest is show.

I sympathize, but, as I replied to Preston, just how does one get Holder and Obama to appoint one? And, furthermore, what guarantees do we have that the appointee will be truly independent? I don’t think it’s likely that the Attorney General will appoint a modern-day Archibald Cox, who’d rather be fired than compromise his investigation, do you?

Senator Roberts of Kansas was also among those calling for an independent prosecutor appointed by Congress:

 “The Obama Administration’s Department of Justice won’t meaningfully pursue the IRS, but Kansans are demanding a full investigation, where ever it may lead, into how and why the IRS shut down the activities of the Administration’s opponents. At this point, only a Congressionally appointed and separately funded special counsel, with full subpoena power, can get to the bottom of this matter. Congress has longstanding and broad authority to both investigate allegations of wrongdoing within the federal government and to delegate its investigatory powers to other entities. It’s time to put this authority into action.

Roberts wants the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for “suppressing the First Amendment” rights of those targeted by the IRS, but, as former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy points out, there is a serious flaw in Roberts’ argument: Congress has all the authority to appoint an investigator and investigate all they want, but they have no constitutional authority to prosecute:

Congress can issue subpoenas for information in connection with its oversight function; it lacks any power to issue subpoenas in connection with what Senator Roberts says he is calling for: “the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for suppressing the First Amendment.” Congress is bereft of authority to enforce the penal laws, to conduct grand-jury proceedings, to issue indictments, to make arrests, and to subject offenders to criminal trials.

(…)

Senator Roberts is surely correct that Congress may appoint and fund its own special counsel. Indeed, it has done so many times: Committees conducting significant congressional investigations have frequently retained experienced former prosecutors to lead the hunt for evidence and the examination of witnesses. But a congressional special counsel is not, and may not be, an independent prosecutor. A congressional “special counsel” may only exercise Congress’s powers, not the president’s. The special counsel may conduct oversight; he or she may not prosecute.

Citing arguments ranging from recent Appeals Court rulings back to James Madison in Federalist 10, McCarthy reminds us that the Founders considered this separation of power, a division between the power to legislate and the power to prosecute, as essential to our liberty. Indeed, Madison saw their combination in one branch of government’s hands to be the very definition of tyranny (1).

But, if Congress can only investigate and shed light, but not prosecute, what then is to be done? What remedy is there when the Executive won’t fulfill its duties to enforce the laws and, if need be, prosecute?

McCarthy answers that the solution to this political problem is the political “weapon” the Constitution allows Congress — impeachment:

Congress has the power to impeach and remove from power high executive officials who have abused their powers. And while it appears that conventional felonies may have been committed in the IRS scandal, that is nearly beside the point, for two reasons.

First, “high crimes and misdemeanors” need not be indictable offenses. The term, borrowed from English law, refers instead to betrayals of the profound trust reposed in high government officials. Undermining the constitutional rights of the people and misleading Congress are among the most egregious betrayals executive-branch officials can commit. They clearly warrant impeachment and removal.

Second, with due respect to Senator Roberts and other Republicans who have emphasized the potential criminal liability of IRS and other executive-branch officials, they are barking up the wrong tree. When executive power is being abused, the public-interest imperative is to remove the power from the malevolent or incompetent officials. Whether they are also, at some point, privately prosecuted for their wrongdoing is of far less moment.

And I agree. Realistically, we will have to wait for a Republican White House in order to criminally prosecute law breakers in the IRS and other scandals. But the health of our political system and the Rule of Law requires the removal of corrupt, faithless, and incompetent political appointees now. Forget that the Senate has a Democratic majority lead by a petty tyrant: bring the first impeachment against Commissioner Koskinen and make the Democrats defend the IRS before the public.

We already have a House select committee investigating the Benghazi massacre. If John Boehner doesn’t mind a bit of advice, I’d suggest forming another for the IRS scandal and one for Fast and Furious, both with full subpoena powers and special counsel hired to lead the inquiries. They all should work through the summer and, when done, present their findings to the full House. Forget the Department of Justice; it can’t be trusted with Eric Holder in charge. Instead, the House should impeach whomever is found culpable by the investigations.

Short of removing the President, himself (2), it’s the only way (3) to rein in an imperial Executive Branch.

Footnote:
(1) And if you look at the Chief Executive’s usurpations of Congress legislative power to rewrite the laws at whim, you can see what Mr. Madison meant. Also, this is one reason we prohibit Bills of Attainder.
(2) McCarthy has written an excellent book, Faithless Execution, making the legal case for Barack Obama’s impeachment and removal from office. However, he also makes a strong argument that this simply will not be possible without a public political consensus for Obama’s removal existing, first. I agree with him and think that going after lower officials, instead, will be more fruitful.
(3) There is the “power of the purse,” but for various reasons that hasn’t worked in recent years.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Bookshelf update — Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment

June 3, 2014

Renaissance scholar astrologer

I’ve updated the “What I’m reading” widget to the right to reflect the latest item on the Public Secrets lectern, former US Attorney Andrew McCarthy’s “Faithless Execution: building the case for Obama’s impeachment.”

book cover mccarthy faithless execution

 

Just started it this morning, but I can already tell that it promises to be trenchant, clearly written, and thorough, like all McCarthy’s books. It’s available in both Kindle (1) and hardcover formats.

PS: Why, yes. This is a shameless bit of shilling on my part. I like getting the occasional gift certificate that comes from people buying stuff via my link. But I still think it’s a good book.

Footnote:
(1) I’m happy to say I’ve found no typos or formatting errors, so far. These are all too common in Kindle e-books.


Schadenfreude is oh-so sweet

March 21, 2011

For years I had to watch while the Kook Left slammed George W. Bush again and again over Iraq. While that was annoying, it was expected; they aren’t called “moonbats” for nothing. But what made it maddening was the cynical exploitation of said kooks by the Democratic party, the leaders of which put their short-term electoral fortunes ahead of the nation’s interests in a time of war. Foremost among them was one Senator Barack H. Obama, who said:

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

My, how time flies. Just four short years later, and now-President Obama has launched his own war in Libya. Sure, he got the permission of the UN Security Council and the agreement of the international community (all bow), which is all that really matters to a progressive transnationalist, but he forgot that little part about honoring the Constitution and obtaining the “informed consent of Congress.” And that has the moonbats meeping and gibbering in outrage.

I love it:

A hard-core group of liberal House Democrats is questioning the constitutionality of U.S. missile strikes against Libya, with one lawmaker raising the prospect of impeachment during a Democratic Caucus conference call on Saturday.

Reps. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Donna Edwards (Md.), Mike Capuano (Mass.), Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), Maxine Waters (Calif.), Rob Andrews (N.J.), Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), Barbara Lee (Calif.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.) “all strongly raised objections to the constitutionality of the president’s actions” during that call, said two Democratic lawmakers who took part.

Kucinich, who wanted to bring impeachment articles against both former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney over Iraq — only to be blocked by his own leadership — asked why the U.S. missile strikes aren’t impeachable offenses.

Kucinich also questioned why Democratic leaders didn’t object when President Barack Obama told them of his plan for American participation in enforcing the Libyan no-fly zone during a White House Situation Room meeting on Friday, sources told POLITICO.

And liberals fumed that Congress hadn’t been formally consulted before the attack and expressed concern that it would lead to a third U.S. war in the Muslim world.

While other Democratic lawmakers have publicly backed Obama — including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and top members of the Armed Services, Foreign Affairs and Intelligence committees — the objections from a vocal group of anti-war Democrats on Capitol Hill could become a political problem for Obama, especially if “Operation Odyssey Dawn” fails to topple Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi, leads to significant American casualties, or provokes a wider conflict in the troubled region of North Africa.

So now the Kook Left*, which the Democratic leadership wielded like a baseball bat to bludgeon Bush, has turned on… the Democratic leadership.

Why yes, I believe I will have another helping of schadenfreude, thanks. It’s delicious!

via Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt

*I mean, just look at the names on that list.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Can we impeach Eric Holder now?

February 10, 2011

I’ve called before for the impeachment of Attorney General Holder; there’s plenty of evidence to justify hearings before a House committee, and I’ll bet my last dollar the facts they would uncover would make impeachment unavoidable. Eric Holder is a corrupt Attorney General who places ideology ahead of the impartial enforcement of the law. Today brings another example, this time from indefatigable election attorney J. Christian Adams, of Eric Holder’s guiding theory of justice — “It depends:”

Eric Holder’s Justice Department has even politicized compliance with the Freedom of Information Act. According to documents I have obtained, FOIA requests from liberals or politically connected civil rights groups are often given same day turn-around by the DOJ. But requests from conservatives or Republicans face long delays, if they are fulfilled at all.

The documents show a pattern of politicized compliance within the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. In particular, I have obtained FOIA logs that demonstrate as of August 2010, the most transparent administration in history is anything but. The logs provide the index number of the information request, the date of the request, the requestor, and the date of compliance.

For example, Republican election attorney Chris Ashby of LeClair Ryan made a request for the records of five submissions made under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Ashby waited nearly eight months for a response. Afterwards, Susan Somach of the “Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda,” a group headed by Rev. Joseph Lowery, made requests for 23 of the same type of records. While Ashby waited many months for five records, Somach waited only 20 days for 23 records.

Under the Obama DOJ, FOIA requests from conservative media never obtained any response from the Civil Rights Division, while National Public Radio obtained a response in five days.

Adams goes on to recount instance after instance in which individuals and organizations friendly to the Obama administration had their FOIA requests promptly filled, while conservatives and Republicans have had to wait long past the legal deadlines — if they get any response at all. (Pajamas Media, for whom Adams writes, has filed their own lawsuit to force the DoJ to comply with their FOIA request.) To answer the obvious counter-charge that “they all do it, so it’s no big deal,” Adams recounts how the Bush administration in its waning days rushed to fill a request from a hostile journalist, knowing he would use the information to savagely attack them. In other words, the Bush administration complied with the law without regard to the cost to itself.

The pattern is far too clear to be a coincidence: the Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder willingly violates the Freedom of Information Act when the requester is a conservative or a Republican — it breaks the law.

While slow-boating FOIA requests probably won’t elicit the outrage that racially-discriminatory enforcement of the Voting Rights Act does (Or should. Hello, MSM??), I submit that it is another piece of evidence that the enforcement of our laws under Eric Holder is ideologically driven, highly politicized, and ethically corrupt. When added to Holder’s obvious left-wing dogmatism and stunning incompetence regarding civilian trials for captured al Qaeda terrorists, there can be only one conclusion: Eric Holder has got to go. Since we can’t expect his boss to give him the axe*, our only recourse is impeachment.

Gentlemen of the House Judiciary Committee, you may start your hearings.

*Eek! Violent rhetoric!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)