The Ohio congressman leading House conservatives in the drive to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen for High Crimes and Misdemeanors during his tenure told Breitbart News Wednesday’s impeachment hearing with Koskinen testifying under oath has been a long time coming.
“We’ve been trying for 15 months, since we introduced the first resolution by Mr. Chaffetz, which had something like 84 co-sponsors, so we’ve been trying, and trying and trying,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R.-Ohio), who was the last chairman of the Republican Study Committee, before it transitioned from being the chamber’s conservative bloc to an arm of leadership.
A motion of impeachment filed by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R.-Utah), the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, passed his committee, but did not clear the Judiciary Committee.
Koskinen, like all IRS commissioners, serves a five-year term. His term ends Nov. 12, 2017. If the House votes to impeach Koskinen by a simple majority, the matter is presented to the Senate as an indictment. The Senate would hold a trial and vote on a conviction.
If the Senate votes to convict by a two-thirds majority, Koskinen is removed from office.
The IRS commissioner is accused of lying to Congress and overseeing the destruction of evidence he was ordered to preserve and that he promised to preserve.
Jordan said an impeachment is not a criminal process like in a court house.
“The standard is not criminal intent,” he said. “The standard is breach of public trust, gross negligence, dereliction of duty–certainly all of those have been met with the fact pattern of what the IRS did under Mr. Koskinen watch.”
Lerner was the IRS official in charge of the BOLO, or Be On the Lookout, operation that targeted conservative groups for harassment and slow-walked paperwork going into the 2012 election cycle, when President Barack Obama was running his second term.
The congressman said Koskinen learned in February 2014 that there was a problem recovering and then producing Lerner’s emails to Congress.
Then, IRS personnel destroyed the backup tapes that would have recorded data from Lerner’s hard drives, he said.
Although Koskinen informed the Treasury Department and the White House about this chain of events, he did not inform Congress until June 2014, he said.
“That’s a pretty compelling fact pattern,” Jordan added.
Frustration with the failure to move forward with the Chaffetz impeachment bill led to the privileged motion gambit.
House conservatives were poised to execute a privileged motion Thursday, which would have forced a vote on Koskinen’s impeachment without debate or opportunity for amendment.
Shortly before midnight Wednesday, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R.-S.C.), acting as an envoy from the House GOP leadership, brokered an agreement so that House conservatives would postpone a vote on impeachment until after the election in exchange for a hearing with the House Judiciary Committee with the IRS commissioner under oath.
Capitol Hill sources familiar with the situation told Breitbart News Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R.-Wis.) and the House Republican leadership had been blocking action on the impeachment for months.
The sources said the leadership arranged for a private meeting with members of the Tuesday Group, a caucus of Republicans that cooperates with Democrats, and Rep. Bill Flores (R.-Texas), the chairman of the Republican Study Committee and a close ally of Ryan’s.
Jordan said he thrilled with the opportunity to bring the impeachment of Koskinen in front of the Judiciary Committee, which is another step in holding the long-time Democratic attorney and fundraiser accountable.
“This is exactly what we have been after for a long, long time,” the congressman said.
The hearing also removes the last objective congressmen had about moving forward with the impeachment, he said.
Koskinen will have the opportunity to answer questions and respond to the charges made against him, he said.
“The facts are very strong in our favor–and Americans are so frustrated with the double standard, they want someone held accountable,” Jordan said.
No American dealing with the IRS would have been excused by that agency for behavior that Koskinen exhibited routinely, he said.