Jason Chaffetz's latest wild goose chase: House GOP files impeachment articles against IRS commissioner

18 other Republicans gleefully sign on to this failed crusade. Remember their Planned Parenthood bust?

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published October 28, 2015 2:49PM (EDT)

 (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz, along with 18 Republican members of his Oversight and Government Reform Committee, filed articles of impeachment against the IRS Commissioner on Tuesday, after the Justice Department (DOJ) declined to bring criminal charges against former IRS official Lois Lerner following a two year investigation into whether the agency improperly targeted the tea party and other conservative groups for scrutiny.

Chaffetz argued that John Koskinen, the IRS head, violated the public trust when he failed to properly preserve Lerner's email after taking over the agency in 2013.

On Friday, the DOJ closed its two year investigation into the IRS, claiming it "found no evidence that any IRS official acted based on political, discriminatory, corrupt, or other inappropriate motives that would support a criminal prosecution," and arguing that "poor management is not a crime."

According to Chaffetz's impeachment articles, which he threatened to file back in July if Koskinen failed to resign, Lerner's lost 24,000 emails may have contained evidence of wrongdoing.

“Commissioner Koskinen violated the public trust. He failed to comply with a congressionally issued subpoena, documents were destroyed on his watch, and the public was consistently misled,” Chaffetz said in a statement.

Chaffetz also appears miffed that his Oversight Committee wasn't notified about Lerner's destroyed backup tapes in a timely manner despite the White House and Treasury Department being promptly notified. The impeachment resolution charges the IRS knew as early as February 2014 that Lerner’s emails were lost after a reported computer hard drive crash, but the agency didn’t notify Chaffetz until June.

According to Chaffetz, this is grounds for impeachment.

“Impeachment is the appropriate tool to restore public confidence in the IRS and to protect the institutional interests of Congress,” he said. Impeachment proceedings will "demonstrate to the American people that the IRS is under repair," according to Chaffetz and company.

Of course, it was Chaffetz who just this month admitted that his committee's investigation into Planned Parenthood's misuse of federal funds turned up zero evidence of wrongdoing after publicly berating CEO Cecile Richards for hours in front of a stunt show Congressional hearing.

Ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings best summed up Chaffetz's latest sideshow. "This ridiculous resolution will demonstrate nothing but the Republican obsession with diving into investigative rabbit holes that waste tens of millions of taxpayer dollars while having absolutely no positive impact on a single American."

Even conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer is sour on the GOP chances of success with this latest wild goose chase.

"This is not going to end well," he said Tuesday night on Fox News. "Republicans in the Congress have shown that they have no ability to conduct successful investigations of this administration. Everything they have touched has failed or backfired, even Benghazi."

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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House Gop Irs Irs Investigation Jason Chaffetz John Koskinen Lois Lerner Video