House Judiciary Republicans blast Koskinen during impeachment hearingBaltimore Post-Examiner

House Judiciary Republicans blast Koskinen during impeachment hearing

WASHINGTON (Talk Media News) – House Republicans Wednesday took turns blasting Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen during an impeachment hearing for failing to preserve emails that might have proved the agency previously targeted conservative organizations.

“The allegations of misconduct against Mr. Koskinen are serious… On his watch volumes of information crucial to the investigation into the IRS targeting scandal were destroyed. Before the [backup] tapes were destroyed Congressional demand including subpoenas for information about the IRS targeting scandal went unanswered and were not complied with,” said Judiciary Chairman Rep Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) in his opening statement.

“Mr. Koskinen provided misleading testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee concerning IRS efforts to provide information to Congress,” Goodlatte added.

Koskinen became IRS Commissioner in December 2013 and inherited an agency that had been riddled by scandal. Lois Lerner, who was previously in charge of the agency’s tax-exempt division, resigned in September 2013 amid accusations that conservative groups had been targeted for audits and were also subjected to additional scrutiny when applying for non-profit status.

Prior to Lerner’s resignation she had issued an apology at a press conference in which she admitted that some conservative groups had been singled out for additional scrutiny.

In May 2013, Lerner was subpoenaed to testify before the House Oversight Committee and choose to invoke the 5th Amendment rather than respond to questions. As a result she was later found to be in contempt of Congress.

The House Oversight Committee subsequently issued a subpoena for all materials related to Lerner’s agency email correspondence.

Lerner had told IRS technical staff in June 2011 that her computer had crashed.

Successive attempts to rehabilitate her hard drive were not successful.

Koskinen told the House Oversight Committee in 2014 that the IRS had agreed to produce all of Lerner’s emails.

Shortly after Koskinen’s testimony, Congress was informed that a large containment of Lerner’s emails that had been preserved on backup tapes after her computer had crashed had accidentally been erased.

Koskinen has consistently maintained that he was not aware that the emails had been erased when he previously promised to turn them over and reiterated that contention during Wednesday’s hearing.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who had previously gained national exposure for his tough questioning of Hillary Clinton during the October 2015 Benghazi hearings, suggested that he did not believe Koskinen’s contention of ignorance or that the emails had been erased accidently.

“We’re supposed to believe that’s just a coincidence?” Jordan asked.

Jordan previously had asked the Commissioner if statements contained in the articles of impeachment alleging that on March 4, 2014 IRS officials erased 422 backup pages that are believed to have contained more than 20,000 Lerner emails was an accurate assessment.

“Yes,” Koskinen replied.

Jordan had also asked if the erased information had previously been requested via subpoena.

“Yes,” Koskinen replied.

In response to a question from Talk Media News, Jordan said the IRS email deletions represent a pervasive pattern of deliberate document concealment and destruction that is prevalent among many in the Obama Administration.

“Whether you’re talking about Clinton; the lack of response we got from the State Department with Benghazi-the fact that 422 backup tapes that were under subpoena were destroyed; of course this is a pattern,” Jordan said. “And it’s the part that bothers Americans; this idea that there’s a double standard.”

Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) who is the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee dismissed the impeachment hearing as a political stunt.

“No matter how we feel about a particular official, no matter what we think about his or her agency, successful impeachments are bipartisan efforts—and partisan attacks cloaked in the impeachment process are doomed from the start,” Conyers said.

Conyers said that the hearing was only taking place because previous attempts to facilitate an impeachment vote had proved unsuccessful due to lack of popular support.

Conyers also said that Koskinen already had been exonerated of any wrongdoing by numerous federal investigative authorities.

“On the merits; the Commissioner’s critics simply have not proved their case,” Conyers said. “In fact every other investigation that has examined these facts have refuted the charges against Commissioner Koskinen.”

This article is republished with permission from Talk Media News 

About the author

Bryan Renbaum

Bryan is a reporter and political columnist with Baltimore Post-Examiner and has broken multiple stories involving athletic scandals. He has been interviewed by ABC's Good Morning America as well as Baltimore area radio stations. Bryan has both covered and worked in the Maryland General Assembly and is extremely knowledgeable of politics, voting patterns and American history. In addition to his regular duties, Bryan freelances for several publications and performs investigative research. He has a B.A. in Political Science. Contact the author.

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