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IRS Commissioner won't attend House Judiciary hearing

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen has decided not to present his side of the story during the House Judiciary's Committee's look tomorrow into how he's doing his job.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen at Senate Finance hearing 10-27-15IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has been a regular fixture at Congressional hearings since he took over as head of the tax agency in December 2013. He won't however, be at tomorrow's House Judiciary hearing to examine how he has fulfilled his duties.

The IRS chief was expected to be grilled (again) by angry GOP committee members about alleged false statements and a perceived lack of cooperation at previous hearings. 

I can definitely see how that prospect alone is enough to warrant skipping the partisan party. But the IRS says Koskinen has legitimate reasons for turning down the House Judiciary Committee's invitation to the May 24 event.

Why Koskinen won't show: In a statement explaining Koskinen's decision to skip tomorrow's hearing, the IRS told the Judiciary Committee:

"When the committee announced this hearing, [Koskinen] was returning from China after meeting with tax administrators of 43 nations. The committee's quick timetable left him without the time to fully prepare for Tuesday's hearing.

"In addition, he also has been preparing for a previous commitment to appear before a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Wednesday."

And while the commissioner "believes there is an extensive record from the congressional investigations and previous hearings on the actions taken at the IRS," Koskinen will provide written testimony.

He also reportedly has told the Judiciary panel that he is willing to appear before it in the future.

Who will be there: So what will Koskinen miss tomorrow?

The House Judiciary Committee's website says that during its May 24 session, members will: 

"… examine the findings of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's investigation of IRS Commissioner Koskinen. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has investigated the targeting of conservative groups for several years and 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 Lois Lerner’s emails were missing."

Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) will elaborate on those charges.

Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, as well as a member of the Judiciary panel, has long had concerns (or held a grudge, say many most House Democrats) about Koskinen.

Last summer, Chaffetz proposed impeaching the IRS chief. Tomorrow's and June's Judiciary hearings are seen as a path toward that goal. Chaffetz also last week introduced a bill to censure Koskinen.

DeSantis, who also serves on both Judiciary and Oversight panels, also has publicly called for Koskinen's impeachment.

A so far unnamed Democratic member also is slated to join the Chaffetz and DeSantis in testifying.

As soon as the Representatives' prepared remarks, along with Koskinen's written testimony, are made available I'll link to them in this post.

Get that June date on the calendar: While I'm glad to now have my Tuesday morning free, I still might check in with the proceedings (they'll be streamed live at the Judiciary Committee's website) to see what kind of sparks might fly between the Republican and Democratic committee members.

The session obviously won't be as exciting as it would have been had Koskinen appeared. However, it likely will provide some hints about what we can expect in the next anti-Koskinen gathering to be held some day in June.

A piece of advice, Judiciary calendar keeper. You best firm up that second hearing date soon before Koskinen's summer schedule fills up then, too.

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