WASHINGTON — Nearly one year after Republicans attempted to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, the official whom conservatives accused of breaching the public trust is still the US government’s chief tax collector as his term comes to end on November 12.
But Koskinen’s ability to elude the House Freedom Caucus’ desire to remove him from office has left conservatives feeling bittersweet, and one theorizes that it could be because the IRS is auditing President Donald Trump’s tax returns and Trump could be worried about what information Koskinen has on him.
While conservatives are glad Koskinen is on his way out, they feel a sense of disappointment in their inability punish the man they say obstructed justice and stonewalled lawmakers.
“I’m extremely disappointed,” Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert told Business Insider. “I think he basically thumbed his nose at all of Congress and we haven’t done anything about it and I think it hurts our credibility.”
House Republicans have long accused Koskinen of lying to lawmakers about the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups at the height of the Tea Party’s manifestation during the Obama administration. Conservatives charge that Koskinen destroyed documents relating to the targeting, lied about it, and thus should have been impeached.
Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who spearheaded the effort to impeach Koskinen while serving as chairman of the Freedom Caucus, said “we should have ousted him long ago,” adding he is glad Koskinen’s term is wrapping up next month.
Virginia Rep. Dave Brat told Business Insider that the rule of law never applied to Koskinen, even into the Trump administration.
“The IRS was shown to be targeting groups — Tea Party groups in my own district — it was proven and nothing happens to big elites” Brat said. “Because they know where bodies are buried on our side and on the other side and unfortunately, the rule of law is not kicking in.”
Brat also floated the idea that Trump did not immediately fire Koskinen upon becoming president because of an ongoing audit of his personal finances.
“I’m speculating on that but what’s one of the key issues with Trump? Tax returns, right?” Brat said. “So it makes you suspicious that it’s so bad.”
“It’s curious when someone has broken the law and the law doesn’t kick in — that’s a big hint,” Brat added. “So I hope that’s not the case — I don’t know it’s the case — but if you just look at the logic and why you’re doing the story, something’s wrong. Something’s very wrong.”
However, Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie shrugged off Brat’s theory that Trump did not fire Koskinen out of fear any potential financial dirt might be released.
“[The Trump administration] had a hard time getting confirmations and people appointed and some of that’s the Senate’s fault,” Massie said. “Probably you don’t plow up ground if you can’t plant it.”
A spokesperson for the IRS declined to comment on Brat’s theory. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
At the end of 2016, former Louisiana Rep. John Fleming pushed for a privileged resolution to force a vote on Koskinen’s impeachment. Ultimately, the plan was tabled and safely sent back to the Judiciary Committee.
On Thursday, an inspector general report suggested liberal groups may have been targeted by the Obama administration as well, according to the Washington Post.
Regardless of the circumstances of Koskinen’s exit, though, conservatives are breathing a sigh of relief that their arch nemesis at the IRS is on his way out.
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