John Koskinen

What's the Status of the IRS Commissioner Impeachment Debate?

A tense House Judiciary Committee hearing was held Wednesday on the impeachment of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, and it seems unlikely there will be a resolution this month. Koskinen fielded questions about a scandal -- that the agency applied extra scrutiny to conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status -- that has badgered the IRS since before he became commissioner. How did this come about and what's expected to happen next in Congress?

Hearing Drags Out Resolution on IRS Impeachment Debate
No action expected until after the November election

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, seen during a 2014 House Oversight hearing, told the Judiciary panel he would not resign. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The debate about whether to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is unlikely to come to a quick resolution after a House hearing Wednesday in which some Republicans asked the IRS to provide more information to Congress.

Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia opened the hearing by calling the allegations against Koskinen “serious” and saying that the committee has “meticulously poured through thousands of pages of information” on the matter.  But his plans for how or whether to proceed on an impeachment resolution filed against Koskinen were still unclear after the nearly four-hour session.

Bipartisan Majority Could Have Stopped House IRS Impeachment Vote
Many in GOP said to have lingering concerns about process

Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent said there enough Republicans to join Democrats in tabling the resolution to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen last week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Weeks of Republican infighting over whether the House should move to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen could have ended last Thursday with a vote to table the impeachment resolution. 

"We had more than enough votes, more than sufficient votes to table the motion," Rep. Charlie Dent said in an interview.

IRS Impeachment Vote Could Still Happen Next Week
Huelskamp says he may force vote next week, even if he has to go it alone

Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp may offer a notice of his intent to file a privileged resolution to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen next week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A House floor vote on a resolution to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen could still come next week, despite a deal under which the Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday with the embattled agency chief. 

House Freedom Caucus member Tim Huelskamp told reporters Thursday that a deal to delay the impeachment vote, which had been expected to occur that day, only involved waiting until after the Judiciary hearing. There was no agreement to wait until November to have a floor vote, the Kansas Republican said. 

Freedom Caucus Moves to Force Vote on Impeaching IRS Chief
Koskinen and his legal team dismiss charges as 'meritless'

Louisiana Rep. John Fleming said IRS commissioner John Koskinen's statements and actions in the face of the congressional inquiry "warrant impeachment, trial and removal from office." (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. John Fleming of the House Freedom Caucus, as expected, took a procedural step Tuesday to force a vote on whether to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

The Louisiana Republican stood on the floor with Kansas GOP Rep. Tim Huelskamp at his side and read the impeachment resolution. The resolution was introduced under a privileged motion, meaning it bypasses committee and requires a floor vote.

IRS Impeachment Debate Latest Example of House GOP Infighting
Rank and file show influence when the conference lacks consensus to act

Embattled IRS Commissioner John Koskinen met with House Republicans on Wednesday to make his case for why he shouldn't be impeached. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As divided House Republicans debate whether they should vote to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, members are also wrestling over when it’s appropriate to skirt traditional legislative procedures and take matters into their own hands.

The impeachment effort is just the latest example of a group of rank-and-file members trying to push for a vote on an issue that they see as a priority but that lacks broad support among the House Republican Conference. 

Freedom Caucus' Jordan Eyes Another Push to Oust IRS Chief
Pre-election House vote still doubtful

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is sworn in during a 2014 House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee hearing on the IRS scandal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Jim Jordan and other conservatives are reviving efforts to press the House to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen as the embattled agency head tries to woo Democrats and undecided Republicans.

The Ohio Republican, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said in an interview that he and other allies were weighing the use of procedural tactics similar to the July bid by Louisiana GOP Rep. John Fleming to bring up an impeachment resolution as a privileged measure bypassing committee consideration. The measure calls for formal impeachment of Koskinen for misstatements and a failure to cooperate with a House investigation of the IRS' handling of tax-exempt status requests from conservative groups.

Conservatives Try to Force Vote on IRS Commissioner Impeachment
GOP conference will discuss the matter when it returns in September, Ryan says

   

The conservative House Freedom Caucus used a procedural maneuver Thursday morning to launch their bid to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, seeking to force a vote on the matter after Congress return in September.   

Conservatives May Force Vote on Impeaching IRS Commissioner
Judiciary Committee has not acted on impeachment resolution since hearings

North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, would rather the Judiciary Committee commit to having an impeachment vote. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A handful of House Freedom Caucus members are considering forcing a vote on a resolution to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen before Congress adjourns for a seven-week recess, members said Tuesday.  

"We're still hopeful that it will go through committee, still hopeful that there's a potential for judiciary to act on this particular issue," said North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Meadows, a founding member of the Freedom Caucus. "There's lots of questions about procedural motions. Those things are still all on the table but no decisions have been made."  

Impeachment of IRS Chief Is a Serious Misstep
Targeting Koskinen sets a dangerous precedent

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is facing a concerted attack by House Republicans. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

On November 9, 2017, well into the Clinton or Trump Administration, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s term will expire.  Koskinen, like FBI Director James Comey, is a Senate-confirmed executive who has a term of office making him independent of the president’s term.  Koskinen will be lauded at that time as a man of integrity who not only kept the IRS on life support while under constant attack but who provided the necessary leadership and integrity to drive the agency forward to better serve taxpayers.   

[ Issa Subpoenas Lois Lerner's Hard Drive for 'Lost' IRS Emails ] Impeachment of federal office holders is reserved for those who commit high crimes or misdemeanors. Unfortunately, the House of Representatives seems determined to have a go at Koskinen for reasons that are political and unworthy of impeachment. Chairman Jason Chaffetz of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform introduced an impeachment resolution against Koskinen. The House Judiciary Committee held hearings. This is an uncharacteristic misstep by the Paul Ryan House of Representatives.   Koskinen is an exemplary public official. He should be getting an award for his service, not this type of attention. He has not done anything wrong personally. Impeachment in the absence of crimes or unethical behavior, none of which has occurred here, is a dangerous precedent that has not been part of the U.S. experience and could dissuade experienced, competent executives like Koskinen from accepting appointment to senior management positions within government. I recently defended a case in Austin, Texas, where a similar mean-spirited legislative impeachment proceeding rightly failed.   Why is Koskinen singled out for this ‘honor?’ In essence, the claim is he failed to respond to lawfully issued congressional subpoenas and engaged in “a pattern of deception” in statements pertaining to the IRS production of emails, and failed to act with competence in overseeing the investigation into IRS’s treatment of conservative groups. The proponents’ case that Koskinen committed high crimes and misdemeanors depends upon issues he did not control.   But Koskinen wasn’t even at the IRS when the scandal occurred, and he certainly was not leading the search for documents to respond to congressional requests. Republican members of Congress are rightfully upset that IRS employees in West Virginia magnetically erased hundreds of backup tapes in March 2014, destroying some of former IRS official Lois Lerner’s emails. While IRS recycling the backup tapes was dumb as a bag of hammers, Koskinen did not engage in that activity.