House Republicans Divide Over Impeaching the IRS Chief

IRS chief John Koskinen IRS chief John Koskinen Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Prospects for following through on last October’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee resolution to impeach Internal Revenue Commissioner John Koskinen appeared to fade on Thursday when Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters effectively to wait until next year.

"Yes, I think this is an agency that has not been led well and this is an agency that needs to be cleaned up," he said when asked about the resolution to impeach Koskinen for allegedly defying Congress’ probe of the political targeting controversy. "As far as these other issues, look, what I think we need to do is win an election, get better people in these agencies and reform the tax code so we’re not harassing the average taxpayer with a tax code that they can't even understand."

But Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, took to the House floor on Thursday under special orders to call on the Judiciary Committee to proceed with impeachment.

“Under Commissioner Koskinen’s watch, with a congressional subpoena and preservation order in place and with Congress, the Department of Justice and the IRS inspector general asking for documents, the IRS destroyed 422 backup tapes that contained potentially 24,000 emails,” Jordan said in a statement. “Three weeks after learning of the problem, Koskinen told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that he intended to produce ‘all’ documents related to former IRS employee Lois Lerner, who was at the heart of the IRS targeting of conservatives. He said this despite the fact that without those tapes he would be unable to provide all documents.”

Jordan added: “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.”

Tax attorney Paul Streckfus, in his newsletter on tax-exempt organizations, reported that Ways and Means Committee member Rep. Peter Koskam, R-Ill., also appears to be backing away from his support for impeachment, which has drawn little enthusiasm from Senate Finance Committee Republicans. “There is a larger reality that’s overshadowing these things,” Roskam said. “On the positive side, with Koskinen, you know what he is going to say, exactly what he is going to defend and so forth,” the newsletter reported.

The House Judiciary Committee did not respond to inquiries by Friday afternoon.

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