House Republicans Join Democrats to Block Impeachment of IRS Commissioner
by Neil W. McCabe
In a rare moment of bipartisanship, House Republicans and House Democrats came together to block a privileged motion by members of the House Freedom Caucus aimed at forcing the whole House to vote on the impeachment of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
From the House floor, Rep. Jim Jordan (R.-Ohio), the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, forcefully called for the House to hold the commissioner accountable by passing House Resolution 828, calling for the impeachment of Koskinen for high crimes and misdemeanors.
As the Ohio congressman began to speak, House Democrats began to clamor in disapproval.
Turning to his colleagues on the other side of the aisle, Jordan said: “You might want to listen to what we have to say first and then you can moan and groan.”
According to House rules, written by Thomas Jefferson and known as “Jefferson’s Manual,” upon giving notice of his intent to demand a privileged motion, the House leadership has two days to schedule an up-or-down vote without debate or amendments.
“The right to pursue impeachment is an indispensable power that Congress has for holding government officials accountable to the American people,” Jordan said.
“Under his watch, with subpoenas and preservation orders in place, John Koskinen not only allowed 422 back-up tapes containing as many as 24,000 Lois Lerner emails to be destroyed – he then failed to tell Congress about it in a timely manner. John Koskinen has been able to get away with stonewalling Congress, obstructing justice, and breaching the public trust. It’s time that Congress held him accountable for his actions.”
The motion was filed by Rep. John Fleming (R.-LA.), a House Freedom Caucus member, who opted to leave Congress at the end of this session in order to launch an ultimately unsuccessful bid for the Senate.
Fleming’s bill was originally filed in July 13, just before Congress left for its extended recess for the national party conventions and campaigning. Fleming, along with Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R.-KS), was on the verge of demanding a vote in September, but he was pressured the night before by the House Republican leadership. At the time, Fleming was promised a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee and the prospect of a vote after the election.
The impeachment bill made charged Koskinen with four crimes:
- Engaged in a pattern of conduct that is incompatible with his duties as an officer of the United States by failing to respond to lawfully issued congressional subpoenas;
- Engaged in a pattern of deception that demonstrates his unfitness to serve by making a series of false and misleading statements to Congress in contravention of his oath to tell the truth;
- Acted in a manner inconsistent with the trust and confidence placed in him as an officer of the United States; and
- Failed to act with competence and forthrightness in overseeing the investigation into IRS targeting of Americans because of their political affiliations.
Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) made the motion to table consideration of the bill, which would have effectively killed the bill, given that there are fewer than 10 business days left on the session’s calendar. That motion failed, 180-to-230.
Then, it was time for the Republicans to kill their own proposal.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte (R.-Va.) offered a motion to table to his committee, which passed 342-to-72.