House Republicans slammed Internal Revenue Services Director John Koskinen Wednesday for suggesting in an interview that they were continuing probes into allegations of IRS wrongdoing because "they don't want this to end."
"The reason we keep bringing Mr. Koskinen back is when he tells us something, we later learn it's not right," said Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Jordan said the investigating committee will keep bringing Koskinen in until they get the answers they need concerning allegations that the IRS targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny during the 2012 presidential election. Lawmakers have not yet gotten the information the concerning retired IRS official Lois Lerner's missing emails, along with requests for other documents, the Ohio Republican said.
Koskinen was named IRS commissioner in December in hopes of restoring the agency's reputation, but has since become another target in the probes, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Koskinen has appeared before the House Oversight panel four times this year, and showed his frustration in a July interview with industry publication "Tax Notes."
In the July article, Koskinen complained that lawmakers could be stretching out the investigation for political reasons, and that there are investigators who don't want the straight story.
"When we get done with it all, my concern is the reference point won't be back to, 'Well, see, the IRS people were right and they produced all the documents and nothing was wrong,'"
Koskinen said in the exclusive interview. "Instead, congressional investigators will point to details in the investigation where they couldn't get a straight story, to some extent because there are some people who don't want a straight story . . . they don't want this to end."
Further, Koskinen told Tax Notes that he is not sure if people really want a special prosecutor to investigate the claims against the IRS, as a prosecutor would "shut everything down. The special prosecutor then would have sole domain over this and so you wouldn't be holding all these fun hearings every week or two."
Jordan said the interview "just frosts me, and more important, the American people," reports The Wall Street Journal.
Koskinen, a corporate turnaround specialist, did push back at times during the contentious hearing.
"I'm happy to have you cut me off, but I'm not happy to have you misrepresent what my statement was," he said.
Jordan pointed out to Koskinen that the investigation is "not about fun, it is not about amusement," reports The Cleveland Plain Dealer
. He noted that all House Republicans, along with 26 Democrats, voted to bring in a special prosecutor.
"We are here because of a constant flood of false and misleading statements made by the IRS," Jordan told him. "The reason the American people can't get a straight story is because the IRS won't give them one."
Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., told Koskinen that he does not "always come here with answers that ultimately turn out be accurate," reports The Plain Dealer. "The chairman would like to give you the opportunity to correct or further enlighten us in some areas."
Meanwhile, Democrats are comparing the hearings to the movie "Groundhog Day," whose star, Bill Murray, plays a weatherman who must keep living the same day over and over again.
"The purpose of this committee is not to harass federal agency heads," said Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., the subcommittee's top Democratic leader, The Plain Dealer reports.
"So far, none of the evidence has shown any political motivation or White House involvement. They have demanded accountability from the IRS but not the corporations who influence our national elections."
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