IRS Chief Brushes Off GOP 'Obstruction' Charges
The IRS commissioner found himself on the hot seat at congressional hearing Monday night regarding his agency's claim that it lost emails that are key to the investigation of the Tea Party targeting scandal.
The emails belonged to former IRS official Lois Lerner, who's at the heart of the congressional probe.
"It's time for a special prosecutor so we can get to the truth and get past this sham of an investigation that the Justice Department is doing," Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said during Monday night's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing.
But IRS Commissioner John Koskinen brushed aside accusations that the tax agency has obstructed investigations into the targeting of Tea Party and other conservative groups - even while Republicans challenged his credibility.
Congressman Jordan told Koskinen the scandal is out of control and that the lost emails were just another example.
Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., warned the commissioner that in addition to Republicans, the situation wasn't sitting well with a growing number of Democrats and the American people.
"They have a pretty good meter," he said. "And the meter right now and really with the Democrats I know and the Republicans I know, it's just gotten full."
"This story has gotten more implausible as it goes," he continued. "It crashes at a certain time, we can't find it at a certain time, no one was told about it at a certain time."
But several Democrats on the committee say there is evidence that the emails were lost when Lerner's computer hard drive crashed.
Meanwhile, Koskinen said Congress will get all of the remaining emails the IRS has, adding that he never said Congress could have the ones that disappeared.
"If you have a magical way for me to do that I'd be happy to know about it," he told the House panel.
Some Democrats say Republicans are just looking for a conspiracy where there may not be one.
"There's an agenda, that presupposes some guilt that is based in part on supposition, on paranoia, on conspiracy theory - all of which fires up the base of the other party," Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., charged.
But many Republicans, including House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, say the IRS has been stonewalling.
And some, like Rep. Jordan, said it's ridiculous that the investigation into the Tea Party scandal is headed by someone who's given money to President Barack Obama's political campaigns.
"The fact that Barbara Bosserman, a maxed out contributor to the president's campaign, is running this investigation is a joke! It is wrong," Jordan said.
"The fact that the FBI leaks to the Wall Street Journal on January 13 of this year that no one is going to be prosecuted is wrong," he added.
"And, the fact that the president of the United States, the highest official in the executive branch, goes on national television and says there's no corruption, not even a smidgen, is wrong," he said.