WASHINGTON, DC — Prominent members of the House Freedom Caucus called Thursday for the impeachment of Internal Revenue Service chief John Koskinen.
On the eve of Tax Day, Ohio congressman Jim Jordan and his allies Ron DeSantis, Jody Hice, and Doug Lamborn filed an official order for impeachment against Koskinen, to replace him with someone new so that Congress can finally get the last remaining documents in the Lois Lerner conservative targeting case. Jordan and his compatriots also made speeches on the House floor Thursday evening spelling out their case.
Lerner stands accused of directing an elaborate program of harassment aimed at Tea Party and pro-life groups during the run-up to President Obama’s re-election campaign and throughout Obama’s re-election year of 2012. Koskinen took over the IRS with a mandate to change things after Lerner was held in contempt of Congress by a full vote of the U.S. House of Representatives. But he refuses to hand over the final documents that could show who in the White House knew about the Washington-based “secret research project.”
“When you have individuals running an agency with the power of the Internal Revenue Service doing what was done under Commissioner Koskinen’s watch, he in fact should be impeached,” Rep. Jordan said on the Senate floor. Jordan ran point on the IRS scandal while working under Darrell Issa in the House Oversight Committee. Jordan continues to work on the issue in Jason Chaffetz’s Oversight Committee, though less visible progress has been made since Issa’s departure.
“The very lady (Lois Lerner) who was at the center of the storm, who lied when she first made this public, gets brought in front of the Congress and what’s she do? She takes the Fifth,” Jordan said.
“So when you have the central figure exercising their Fifth Amendment right, not willing to testify in public and answer the people’s representatives’ questions, it sort of puts a premium on getting the documents and the communications that the IRS had relative to this issue.”
“So three preservation orders, two subpoenas in place, and the commissioner, under his watch, 422 back-up tapes are destroyed containing 24,000 emails. And what’s Mr. Koskinen do when he learns about problems with these tapes and problems with Ms. Lerner’s hard drive? He waits four months before he tells Congress. …
“That’s why we filed these articles of impeachment and that’s why we are asking that they move forward in the Judiciary Committee and we do what the American people sent us here to do.”
The investigation into Lerner’s improper targeting of conservative nonprofit groups is ongoing. As this reporter revealed, the White House and IRS exchanged confidential taxpayer information on groups during the period in which the IRS was harassing conservatives.
Lerner used the false name “Toby Miles” to send and receive some of her emails, according to a court filing made by an IRS attorney.
The IRS has steadfastly claimed that all of Lerner’s official IRS emails were lost when her computer crashed in 2011, and her computer hard drive was destroyed. But copies of some emails were later turned over to U.S. House investigators. Still more copies were found in backup tapes at a government storage facility in West Virginia.
Here are Jordan’s allies making their case:
Ron DeSantis of Florida