Rep. Jason Chafftez, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, threatened only a few days ago to pursue contempt charges against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. The Republican lawmaker also said he would mount an effort to remove the IRS chief from office through impeachment if President Obama didn’t fire him.
Now a federal judge is issuing his own threat — declaring that he will take punitive action against the Obama administration for not complying with his order to release IRS documents, including Lois Lerner’s emails that Koskinen and others long claimed were missing, inaccessible, or destroyed.
The Washington Times, which has extensively covered the IRS scandal involving Lerner and the targeting of Tea Party and other conservative groups by the tax agency, reports that the angry judge is warning he will hold in contept those who break his orders, including IRS boss Koskinen.
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“Judge Emmet G. Sullivan called the administration’s defense [for not turning over IRS documents] ‘nonsensical’ and said the IRS must release documents every Monday to Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest law firm that requested the documents under open records laws and then sued after the IRS didn’t comply,” reports the Times.
In a sharply worded and painfully detailed 32-page letter to the president on Monday, Rep. Chaffetz, R-Utah, charged that Koskinen has willfully and repeatedly obstructed the Oversight Committee’s multi-year probe into IRS abuses.
Throughout his tenure, Commissioner Koskinen obstructed these Congressional investigations. His obstruction takes the form of failure to comply with a congressional subpoena, failure to testify truthfully, and failure to preserve and produce up to 24,000 emails relevant to the investigation.
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In a news release concerning the smoldering IRS scandal and Lerner’s involvement, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) noted on Thursday that one of the IRS’ excuses for not turning over Lerner’s thousands of emails was that her computer crashed — that her hard drive failed. ATR details the interviews with, and testimony from, investigators who point out that strange markings on the hard drive itself raise serious questions about whether it simply failed or was deliberately damaged before being sent to the shredder for ultimate destruction.
“…testimony from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) revealed that Lois Lerner’s hard drive had ‘scoring on the top platter of the drive,’” the ATR release says. “The testimony also noted that the IRS technician that inspected the hard drive believed that additional steps could have been taken to recover data, although this did not occur and the hard drive was later destroyed by an industrial strength AMERI-SHRED AMS-750 HD shredder.”
When Congress returns from its extended August recess, the House Oversight Committee is expected to release more findings from the hundreds of thousands of documents it’s already received and hopes to receive in the near future.
However, it seem almost certain the Chafftez-led committee will never discover the contents of certain communications Lois Lerner had with others in the IRS relating to the targeting and intimidation scandal. As the Washington Free Beacon reported this week, the ex-director of exempt organizations and associates at the agency occasionally avoided using email, opting instead to use “an instant-messaging system in a seemingly deliberate effort to prevent their communications from being archived.”
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