IRS chief John Koskinen testifies before the Senate Finance Committee on the IRS budget.

IRS chief John Koskinen testifies before the Senate Finance Committee on the IRS budget. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

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Bid to Impeach IRS Chief Moves to New Phase

House Judiciary announces hearings on "misconduct," but IRS hasn't committed.

Nearly seven months after the House oversight panel moved to impeach the Internal Revenue commissioner, the Judiciary Committee has announced two hearings on “misconduct” by John Koskinen, though the IRS has not confirmed that he will appear.

On May 24, the panel led by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., will hear witnesses presenting the findings of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee on “the targeting of conservative groups for several years.” The panel noted in a statement that “many of the committee’s members have found that Commissioner Koskinen failed to comply with a congressional subpoena which resulted in destruction of key evidence, made false statements during his sworn congressional testimony, and did not notify Congress that [former IRS Exempt Organizations division head] Lois Lerner’s emails were missing.”

A second hearing in June will feature still unnamed outside experts “on the findings presented in the first hearing and whether further congressional action is warranted,” the Judiciary Committee said in a Friday announcement noting that Koskinen will be invited.

“The fact that officials at the IRS wielded their power to target certain Americans for their political views is both outrageous and contrary to our nation’s values,” Goodlatte said. “As a result of the IRS’ targeting, conservative groups were singled out across the nation, resulting in lengthy paperwork requirements, overly burdensome information requests, and lengthy, unwarranted delays in their applications.”

Between now and the hearings, he added, the Judiciary panel will examine Koskinen’s “misconduct and the implications of his actions” that, the statement said, “have consistently undermined the investigation.”

Asked whether impeachment is on the agenda, a committee spokeswoman told Government Executive, “These are simply two hearings to methodically examine the allegations made against the IRS commissioner and whether additional congressional action is needed.”

The IRS has not committed to having the commissioner appear. “Commissioner Koskinen and the IRS workforce remain focused on serving the nation’s taxpayers,” the agency said in a statement late Friday. “In addition to completing a successful filing season this spring, we continue making progress on a number of important issues involving taxpayer service, tax enforcement and cybersecurity.”

Republicans appear divided on whether to proceed with the impeachment articles drafted by Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., having suggested last month that the matter might be better addressed next year. Koskinen was sworn in in December 2013—after a year with acting commissioners--for what by statute is a five-year term.