Paul Ryan Accuses IRS Boss John Koskinen Of A Cover-Up, And Not Quietly
Man, the satisfaction of calling someone out, you know? At a Congressional hearing on Friday, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan said "I don't believe you!" to the IRS commissioner, who was testifying about a 2011 case. The thing is, the commissioner, John Koskinen, was under oath, and lying under oath is a crime, so that's a pretty hefty accusation for Ryan to level. Ryan's comment devolved the whole meeting into shouting between Republicans and Democrats, because #governing.
Koskinen was hauled in front of Congress for a hearing on an old scandal. In 2011, the IRS improperly handled a bunch of tax-exempt applications for Tea Party organizations, letting them languish and basically giving them much more scrutiny than other groups. The IRS has since apologized and said that the problem was limited to a team that worked improperly. But many Republicans believe the whole thing was a bid by President Obama to mess with the 2012 elections.
Ryan wasn't shy on Friday, which was probably the whole point:
I am sitting here listening to this testimony, I just, I don't believe it. That's your problem. Nobody believes you.
Koskinen later calmly objected to that.
I have a long career. That's the first time anybody has said they do not believe me.
But Ryan didn't let it go, saying once again:
I don't believe you.
Again, that's a pretty intense accusation to level against someone under oath. A Democrat on the panel later told Ryan to stop bullying Koskinen. Super productive meeting, guys.
Ryan also used the opportunity to attack the IRS generally.
You are the Internal Revenue Service. You can reach into the lives of hardworking taxpayers, and with a phone call, an email or a letter, you can turn their lives upside-down. You ask taxpayers to hand us seven years of their personal information in case they're ever audited, and you can't keep six months of employee emails?
We get that anti-IRS rhetoric plays really well with the base, Ryan, and we agree that the agency should keep a record of all its communications. But Congressional hearings aren't supposed to be used like a campaign, either. Democrats have called the panel a "witch hunt," and one of the women at the center of the scandal, Lois Lerner, whose emails were lost, has already resigned.
The Associated Press reports that no evidence has shown up that suggests anyone outside the IRS had an idea about what was going on with the Tea Party applications. Until that's found — if it exists — maybe Ryan can dial down the outrage a bit?