Issa: 'Serious Questions' Tonight for the IRS Commissioner

Susan Jones | June 23, 2014 | 11:00am EDT
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IRS Commissioner John Koskinen (AP File Photo)

( - The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hear testimony from IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a rare, prime-time hearing Monday night.

"We have some serious questions for the commissioner," Committee Chair Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) told Fox News Monday morning. "The biggest one being, you came before us, you said you'd tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, under oath. Do you believe you told the whole truth? Of course, the answer is, he did not tell the whole truth."

Issa said Koskinen "knew that he had made false statements to Congress" when he failed to inform the Oversight Committee on March 26 that an untold number of Lois Lerner's emails -- those sent and received during the 2009-2011 focal point of the committee's investigation -- had disappeared when her computer hard drive crashed.

This past Friday, Koskinen told the House Ways and Means Committee that the IRS learned there was a problem with some of Lerner's emails in February. The IRS told the Treasury Department and the White House about the problem in April -- six weeks before telling Congress about the missing emails late on the afternoon of Friday, June 13.

"Did he (Koskinen) come to Congress and say, 'Hey, I need to make you aware of this?'" Issa asked. "No, he went to the political appointees at Treasury and he went to the political appointees at the White House discussed it with them. He didn't even discuss it with his own inspector-general, a non-partisan. Why? Because he, in fact, is co-opted in this political coverup."

Issa said the Oversight Committee is particularly interested in finding out "who made the decision to destroy the documents."

He noted that Lerner, a lawyer who headed the IRS's tax-exempt division, decided to put documents on her computer's local C drive. "Can you believe for a moment that she didn't make a backup copy, or if those were important documents to her, that she didn't insist on greater steps be taken to try to recover them?"

Issa said he believes Lois Lerner is "hiding something," and he said he believes the Justice Department, the IRS and the White House are "interested in her succeeding in hiding what she's hiding, which is her targeting of conservative groups based on their ideology, in support of the president's war on Citizens united, a Supreme Court decision that he didn't like."

Issa said Lerner "acted on" President Obama's opposition to that ruling.

"The emails we most want, of course, are from people who agreed with her, and helped her accomplish the targeting and abuse of conservatives," Issa said.

He noted that that some members of Congress, including the Oversight Committee's ranking member Elijah Cummings, sent letters to Lerner, asking the IRS to crack down on conservative groups.

"And I think that certainly is interesting, that those letters, the president's statements, and Lois Lerner's actions correspond almost exactly..."

Tonight's hearing will be carried live on CSPAN-2, beginning at 7 p.m.

'Very big deal'

Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, says Republicans are "going to keep the pressure on" the IRS, the Treasury Department, the White House and other agencies to find out what Lerner was saying to like-minded people in the Obama administration.

"But I do think there's an opportunity to piece together the missing e-mails from Lois Lerner, whether it's e-mail that went between her and the Federal Elections Commission, the White House or Treasury, we're going to continue to pursue all those lines of inquiry and demand that they turn over this material," Boustany told Fox News on Sunday.

"This is about the abuse of power at the highest level," he said. "This is about the violation of constitutional rights in our government. This is a very big deal. And given all the other scandals out there, I mean, you can put what you want into them. This affects every single American because it's the IRS, arguably the most powerful institution in our country because it can affect everybody's lives. It can destroy lives.

"And we cannot abide this kind of abuse of power. And we will not stop. I can tell you, we will not stop."

Boustany said he believes the combined efforts of his committee and Issa's committee will "get to the bottom of this before it's all over with. It's not going to go away."

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