IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has been stonewalling Congress and the courts for more than a year over Lois Lerner’s “missing” emails. He’s also ignored court orders to produce documentation and now, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan has had enough.
During a hearing yesterday surrounding a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch, Sullivan said he “will haul into court the IRS Commissioner to hold him personally into contempt” after the IRS failed to turn over ordered documentation to the Court. The information ordered included status reports and recovered emails belonging to former IRS official Lois Lerner. Sullivan also noted Department of Justice of attorneys are in the same position for failing to turn over ordered documentation. More details about the hearing from JW:
During the a status hearing today, Sullivan warned that the failure to follow his order was serious and the IRS and Justice Department’s excuses for not following his July 1 order were “indefensible, ridiculous, and absurd.” He asked the IRS’ Justice Department lawyer Geoffrey Klimas, “Why didn’t the IRS comply” with his court order and “why shouldn’t the Court hold the Commissioner of the IRS in contempt.” Judge Sullivan referenced his contempt findings against Justice Department prosecutors in the prosecution of late Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) and reminded the Justice Department attorney he had the ability to detain him for contempt. Warning he would tolerate no further disregard of his orders, Judge Sullivan said, “I will haul into court the IRS Commissioner to hold him personally into contempt.”
On July 1 Sullivan ordered the IRS to turn over 1800 emails by releasing them in batches each week. The IRS didn’t produce any emails until July 15, despite the court order. Those emails show Lerner worked with former IRS Commissioner Steven Miller to scrutinize conservative groups.
The new documents show that Lerner and other top officials in the IRS, including soon-to-be Acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller, closely monitored and approved the controversial handling of tax-exempt applications by Tea Party organizations. The documents also show that at least one group received an inquiry from the IRS in order to buy time and keep the organization from contacting Congress.
“In a dramatic court hearing today, Judge Sullivan made it clear he would personally hold accountable the IRS Commissioner Koskinen and Justice Department attorneys for any further contempt of his court orders in Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “The missing and-then-not missing Lois Lerner saga is a stark example of the Obama administration’s contempt for a federal court and the rule of law. That Obama administration officials would risk jail rather than disclose these Lerner documents shows that the IRS scandal has just gotten a whole lot worse.”
Earlier this week, the House Oversight Committee sent a letter to President Obama demanding Koskinen be fired for obstruction of justice. Chairman Jason Chaffetz said if Koskinen isn’t fired, the House may move to impeach him.