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House Oversight panel censures IRS chief Koskinen

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) takes another step today in his quest to have Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen removed from his job.

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This morning the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Chaffetz, is meeting met to vote on a resolution to censure Koskinen.

UPDATE: No surprise here. The Oversight panel voted 23-15 along party lines to censure Koskinen. The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to meet June 22 to consider Chaffetz's resolution to impeach Koskinen. However, the Republican leadership of the House has not indicated whether it will bring any measures against the IRS chief to the full floor for a vote. Across Capitol Hill, Senate action against Koskinen is less likely.

The IRS chief already is under impeachment threat for allegedly impeding Congressional investigations into his agency's treatment of conservative organizations, notably applications by Tea Party affiliated groups for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status.

In announcing the committee's business meeting, Chaffetz posted on the committee's website the reasons for his action:

  • Mr. Koskinen should be condemned and censured for failing to comply with a subpoena and allowing key evidence to be destroyed on his watch, failing to testify truthfully under oath and providing false and misleading information to Congress, and failing to notify Congress that key evidence was missing.
  • The Committee released a video outlining the timeline of key events in the IRS targeting scandal.
  • In July 2015, Chairman Chaffetz, along with 51 members of Congress, sent a letter to President Obama calling for the removal of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. The White House did not respond.
  • On October 27, 2015 Chairman Chaffetz introduced H.J. Res. 494 to begin proceedings in the U.S. House of Representatives to impeach Commissioner Koskinen. The resolution was referred to the House Judiciary Committee and currently has 78 co-sponsors.
  • On May 24, 2016, Chairman Chaffetz testified at a House Judiciary Committee hearing titled, Examining the Allegations of Misconduct Against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, Part I.

Koskinen opted not to testify at the May 24 hearing, citing the hearing's short notice and a scheduling conflict. He did submit written testimony, which several Oversight Committee members objected to having introduced into the formal hearing since Koskinen was not there to answer their follow-up questions on his statement.

Dems decry political ploy: Democrats on the committee say this latest anti-Koskinen move is simply political theater. They note the action comes just a week before the House Judiciary Committee plans to hold a second hearing on Chaffetz's impeachment motion, H. Res. 737.

"It is inexplicable that the Oversight Committee is pressing forward with a vote before the Judiciary Committee completes its review," said Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), the Oversight Committee's ranking minority member, in a statement.

"We have no idea why Chairman Chaffetz is rushing forward with his own vote, but this process is totally backwards. The Republican Inspector General found absolutely no evidence that anyone at the IRS targeted any conservative groups for political reasons, and no evidence that Commissioner Koskinen obstructed the investigation. Yet Republicans seem to have selective amnesia in their political crusade against the IRS," Cummings added.

You can watch the Oversight session on its YouTube channel.

UPDATE 2: Note that the link above has several long gaps as members were called away from the markup to attend to other House business that required Representatives' attention. For your viewing pleasure (sorry, still no sarcasm font) and time management needs, you can watch the session in four handy archived segments: Chaffetz's opening statement, mainly Democratic arguments against the censure in Part 1, Rep. Jody Hice's (R-Ga.) response to his Democratic colleagues, and the wrap-up of the censure action in Part 2

Since Koskinen won't be wasn't there -- it's a committee business meeting, not a hearing, but is public -- I suspect he or at least his aides will be keeping track that way, too.

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