Rumors had been swirling around inside the Beltway for a while, but today they came to fruition. After the feds announced that there would be no charges filed against Lois Lerner over the IRS scandal – or against anyone for that matter – the House of Representatives has taken matters into their own hands. The lower chamber has moved to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen for his role in the muddled and misleading proceedings. Our own Katie Pavlich has the details over at Town Hall.
Specifically, Commissioner Koskinen violated the public trust in the following ways:
-Failed to comply with a subpoena resulting in destruction of key evidence. Commissioner Koskinen failed to locate and preserve IRS records in accordance with a congressional subpoena and an internal preservation order. The IRS erased 422 backup tapes containing as many as 24,000 of Lois Lerner’s emails – key pieces of evidence that were destroyed on Koskinen’s watch.
-Failed to testify truthfully and provided false and misleading information. Commissioner Koskinen testified the IRS turned over all emails relevant to the congressional investigation, including all of Ms. Lerner’s emails. When the agency determined Ms. Lerner’s emails were missing, Commissioner Koskinen testified the emails were unrecoverable. These statements were false.
-Failed to notify Congress that key evidence was missing. The IRS knew Lois Lerner’s emails were missing in February 2014. In fact, they were not missing; the IRS destroyed the emails on March 4, 2014. The IRS did not notify Congress the emails were missing until June 2014 – four months later, and well after the White House and the Treasury Department were notified.
This story will expand quite a bit in the days to come, but as Katie notes, it’s worth remembering that a federal judge had already threatened to haul the Commissioner into court for his obfuscating tactics. Given what’s been reported in the news and the specifics in the filing, it’s very possible that they could actually come up with a conviction here barring a presidential pardon, but there’s still a huge bar to get over.
According to the rules of play, the House can bring the charges with a simple majority vote. Easy enough this year. But the trial is held in the Senate and requires a two thirds vote to convict. (If this is treated as a partisan issue and all the Democrats abscond in their duty it would be impossible.) Also, Joe Biden gets to preside over the trial. Many seem to think that it would be John Roberts, but he would only preside in the case of impeaching the President. That’s a tough hill to climb. In all of US history there have been seven successful impeachments and all of them were judges. The only cabinet official to ever be impeached was William Belknap, Secretary of War under President Grant, but he wasn’t convicted. The only two Presidents to be impeached were not found guilty, as were the various Senators brought to stand before the wheel.
Still, this is going to spice things up in the matter of the IRS scandal and make it one for the record books if the House goes through with this. And given the evidence which seems available, it will be a huge black eye for Senate Democrats if they ignore it and refuse to convict. Interesting times, my friends.