There was a contentious hearing Monday night in the House Government Reform Committee, as new IRS Commissioner John Koskinen was called to testify about Lois Lerner’s “lost” emails.
This hearing was just days after Koskinen was reamed by Rep. Paul Ryan, who told him “nobody believes you” in a House Ways and Means Committee hearing.
Trey Gowdy was in top form Monday night, giving Koskinen a lesson in the law, and no doubt added a few more lines to his growing list of already impressive quotes.
Gowdy began his five minutes of questioning with an explanation of what “spoliation of evidence” means, and how in a courtroom a jury can infer wrongdoing on the part of a defendant if they “spoliate” or destroy/lose/hide evidence. The IRS “losing” two years worth of Lois Lerner’s emails leads the American people to infer that such evidence may have hurt the IRS’s claim that no wrongdoing occurred.
Gowdy then asked Koskinen how he was so sure there was no criminal wrongdoing in the IRS, when he wasn’t familiar with the relevant criminal statutes. (H/T The Blaze)
“Spoliation of evidence is when a party fails to preserve evidence, there’s a negative inference that the jury can draw from their failure to preserve the evidence. If you destroy documents, the jury can infer that those documents wouldn’t have been good for you.”
“If a taxpayer is being sued by the IRS, administratively, civilly, or prosecuted criminally, and they fail to keep documents, the jury can draw a negative inference from the fact that they failed to keep receipts, or emails, or documents. So if it’s true and applies to a taxpayer, it ought to apply to the IRS as well, agreed?”, said Gowdy.
“Is this a trial, is this a jury, is that what this is?” Koskinen asked.
“I said administrative, civil, or criminal, if you want to go down that road I’m happy to go down it with you Commissioner.”
“You have already said multiple times today that there was no evidence that you found of any criminal wrongdoing,” Gowdy said. “I want you to tell me what criminal statutes you’ve evaluated.”
“I have not looked at any,” Koskinen replied.
“Well then how can you possibly tell our fellow citizens that there’s not criminal wrongdoing if you don’t even know what statutes to look at?” Gowdy shot back.
Koskinen repeated again that he had seen no evidence of wrongdoing, but was cut off by Gowdy.
“How would you know what elements of the crime existed?” Gowdy asked. “You don’t even know what statutes are in play. I’m gonna ask you again, what statutes have you evaluated?”
Koskinen said he can rely on common sense, but was again cut off by an incredulous Gowdy.
“Common sense? Instead of the criminal code, you want to rely on common sense?” Gowdy said as Koskinen shook his head at the table.
“You can shake your head all you want to, Commissioner. You have said today that there is no evidence of criminal wrongdoing, and I’m asking you what criminal statutes you have reviewed to reach that conclusion.”
“I have reviewed no criminal statutes”, said Koskinen.
“Alright, so you don’t have any idea whether there was any criminal conduct or not because you don’t know the elements of the offense.”
“What did she (Lois Lerner) mean when she said we needed a project, but we need to be careful that it doesn’t appear to be per se political? You don’t think that is a potential violation of 1842? Because you haven’t looked at 1842, you don’t have any idea Commissioner. You don’t have any idea whether there is any criminal wrongdoing or not.”
Koskinen then tried to spin it back to there being no evidence of involvement by the White House, calling it a conspiracy theory and made up by Republicans.
“No sir, you are wrong about that. You are repeating a talking point from my colleagues on the other side that we’re obsessed with the White House.”
“It was Jay Carney that perpetuated the myth that it was two rogue agents in Ohio, it wasn’t any of us. Was that accurate?” Gowdy asked.
“Not that I know of,” Koskinen replied.
“So that was inaccurate and that came from the White House. Who said there’s not a smidgen of corruption?”
“My understanding is that was the president,” the commissioner answered.
“So that’s Jay Carney and the president both inserting themselves into the IRS scandal,” Gowdy said. “And you want to blame us for bringing the White house into it?”
“I haven’t blamed you at all,” Koskinen said.
“You just did, commissioner. You just did.”
Trey Gowdy nailed Koskinen, and it is a shame that he only had five minutes. Gowdy used his prosecutorial skills and knowledge of the law to prove that the IRS chief has absolutely no idea if anything criminal occurred or not.
There is little doubt that wrongdoing took place, and the convenience of the timeline on which everything occurred only raises more suspicions.
It is high time for a special prosecutor to conduct an investigation. The Justice Department investigation is a sham, and the IRS seems content to wait for another ineffective Inspector General investigation to take place before making any changes or drawing any conclusions.
Hopefully, people will eventually be held accountable. Perhaps that will occur under the next administration. Maybe Trey Gowdy should be nominated as Attorney General under the next Republican administration, then turned loose to fully investigate and prosecute each and every criminal crony in the Obama administration.