Impeaching John Koskinen

Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 14, 2016
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HUELSKAMP. Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be here tonight and tomorrow.

This House will have a chance to redeem itself a bit, or at least remain relevant for now. Hopefully, we will be voting on something of great consequence for a change.

Tomorrow we in this body will be asked to vote for or against removing the IRS Commissioner. Make no mistake, however. This is not just a vote to remove one man from office. It is a vote for or against the rule of law itself. It is a vote for or against maintaining our system of internal checks and balances. It will be a vote for or against accountability for public officials and transparency in our government.

For months, myself and other House Freedom Caucus members have been pushing for this accountability. Those who might oppose this measure most likely believe they are doing the right thing by defending the IRS. In fact, they are defending a toxic status quo in which our Nation's most powerful agency, the IRS, can legitimately be used to thwart one's political enemies. This is a status quo in which one party gains power in one branch of government, then uses the resources of that branch of government to depress the power of all other branches of government. This is something we would expect to see in an emerging democracy, not the greatest Republic in the history of man. Let's take a look back at how this all came about.

During President Obama's reelection campaign, the IRS systemically prolonged consideration of applications for nonprofit status from hundreds of conservative organizations--in some cases, as we heard this evening, indefinitely. Many of those organizations were never able to recover from this denial; others were effectively neutralized for the duration of the 2012 election. This, of course, is a matter of fact and not of opinion. Eventually, the discriminatory practice was exposed, and Mrs. Lerner was removed from her position--although, I might note, she retained her full retirement pension from taxpayers.

John Koskinen was imported as Commissioner to sort the mess out. Then, as the President promised, to restore our faith in the Federal Government, he would act in the best interest of all of us and not abuse his power ever again.

But after Lerner refused to testify before Congress, the IRS casually mentioned that some of her emails had gone missing, despite the subpoenas and orders to preserve them--again, casually mentioned. In fact, we found out later, the IRS had erased 422 backup tapes containing as many as 24,000 emails.

Now, think about that. If every email was one single page and you stack those all up, that would be 8 feet worth of erased emails.

When the Commissioner told Congress under oath that many emails had been accidentally destroyed, he was lying. And when the Commissioner told Congress under oath that his agency would provide investigators with all of Mrs. Lerner's remaining emails, he was lying. And when he told Congress under oath that the IRS would fully comply with any FOIA request and otherwise assist our investigation into the practice of unfairly targeting organizations for their First Amendment beliefs, he was lying. And then when he and his boss, the President of the United States, told the American people, under the sacred trust vested in all public officials, that he would reform the IRS, make it more transparent and less hostile to families, faith organizations, and small businesses, he was not telling the truth.

The Commissioner blatantly lied under oath on multiple occasions because he thought he could get away with it. Just like so many other administration officials, the Commissioner believed he was above the law and beyond reproach.

Tomorrow we have a chance to resoundingly prove Mr. Koskinen's audacious assumptions wrong. These Articles of Impeachment--four for each lie he told--represent the negative consequences that the average American would face if he lied under oath.

Some have called this effort petty. There are even some who believe there are other officials more deserving of removal. Perhaps they are right. However, in this case, we have someone whose violations of the law and the public trust cannot be disputed. And I would hope, in light of the indisputable evidence, this body could perhaps move beyond the partisan divisions so that justice can be served. I encourage my fellow Members to do the right thing and vote for accountability, vote for the rule of law, and vote for a government that has checks on its own power.

I thank the Congressman from Ohio for his leadership. He is a true friend. This is a very serious issue. This is not a political issue. This is an issue of principle and rule of law for our government.