The House’s chief investigator introduced a resolution Wednesday censuring IRS Commissioner John Koskinen and calling for him to resign or be fired, saying he misled Congress and even tried to thwart a subpoena seeking former agency employee Lois G. Lerner’s emails.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, announced the resolution ahead of a hearing next week in the Judiciary Committee, which is exploring what steps Congress should take toward Mr. Koskinen.
Mr. Chaffetz said censure was the first step on the path toward impeachment, serving as an official condemnation. Impeachment is still very unlikely, particularly given the short amount of work days left in this Congress and in the Obama administration’s tenure overall.
“Mr. Koskinen must be held accountable for his misconduct,” the Utah Republican said.
Republicans say Mr. Koskinen falsely told Congress all of Mrs. Lerner’s emails had been turned over to investigators, even though tens of thousands were actually lost in what she said was a computer hard drive crash.
Even after becoming aware of the crash, Mr. Koskinen didn’t take enough steps to try to recover those emails. He also said his agency was unable to find the backups of some of Ms. Lerner’s emails — but the IRS’ own internal auditor was able to discover thousands of them with little effort. The internal auditor concluded that the agency erased 422 backup tapes that should have been protected by the subpoena.
The IRS, in a statement last week when impeachment was broached, didn’t address the accusations, instead listing all the tasks Mr. Koskinen is overseeing at the agency.
“Commissioner Koskinen and the IRS workforce remain focused on serving the nation’s taxpayers. 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,” said spokesman Matthew Leas.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Republicans are being hypocritical in trying to censure Mr. Koskinen.
“John Koskinen has assumed a very difficult task,” he said. “That task has been made only more difficult by the false accusations of Republicans, and by the continued insistence of Republicans to cut the budget of the IRS.”
Saying the IRS budget has been cut by $1 billion over the past five years, Mr. Earnest said, “We’ve seen wait times for customer service increase. It’s had a not-positive impact on enforcement. To have Republicans come back and say he’s not doing a very good job? That’s not on the level.”