President Barack Obama has full confidence in Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen, even as House Republicans are calling for his impeachment over failing to comply with congressional subpoenas.
“Of course he does” have confidence in Koskinen, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told TheBlaze Monday.
Last week, a group of House Republicans went to the House floor to call for Koskinen’s impeachment. Last year, Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee called for charges against the commissioner.
Republicans say Koskinen also failed to testify truthfully and failed to make congressional investigators aware evidence was missing as part of the probe into the IRS targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups — which first came to light in 2013.
Still, Earnest scoffed at the notion of impeachment: “It is ridiculous for Republicans in Congress who seek to gut funding for the IRS, in some cases they call for the outright abolition of the agency, to be a fair arbiter of the effectiveness of the IRS commissioner.”
“The fact is, Mr. Koskinen has an extraordinarily difficult job, and it’s made only more difficult because Republicans seek to cut the funding of the agency,” Earnest continued. “He is someone who undertakes that work with a lot of professionalism and seriousness of purpose, and he deserves our gratitude."
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), who led the group of Republicans on the House floor, said the problems with the IRS are not about funding.
"The IRS has abused its authority and violated the public trust, yet this bothers the White House not at all," DeSantis told TheBlaze. "An agency as powerful as the IRS should not be allowed to live under a different set of rules than everyone else. More funding would not do anything to bring accountability to the IRS but would instead be seen as a vindication of the stonewalling that the agency has done under Commissioner Koskinen."
Koskinen took the post to lead the IRS in 2013 to clean up the mess left behind from scandal that saw the IRS apparently targeting conservative groups. However, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee says he was not honest with investigators and failed to comply with congressional subpoenas.
House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and 18 other Republican members of the committee signed onto an impeachment resolution that was referred to the House Judiciary Committee just four days after the Obama Justice Department announced there would be no prosecutions against former IRS Commissioner Lois Lerner or other figures in the Tea Party targeting scandal. The Judiciary Committee hasn’t yet acted.
The impeachment resolution asserts Koskinen obstructed the congressional investigation, and list three major offenses:
• 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 post was updated to include a comment from Rep. Ron DeSantis.