House Democrats Borrow IRS Hearings To Ask What's The Deal With Trump's Taxes

Truly unexpected

Since Barack Obama keeps refusing to resign for his many crimes, House Republicans are still trying to find SOMEBODY to impeach over the long-discredited "IRS Scandal," so they've settled on trying to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. Koskinen's on the hot seat not for having run a terrible IRS witch hunt that "targeted" conservative groups to keep them from getting the tax-exempt status they deserved, because that never actually happened -- the IRS actually investigated more liberal groups' applications than conservative ones. But somebody has to hang, so it may as well be Koskinen, for allegedly impeding the House's investigation of the phony non-scandal. Happily, almost nothing in this story from this point on will involve dredging through the ashes of that phony-baloney bullshit, because a Beautiful Thing Happened during Wednesday's Inquisition of Koskinen: Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee hijacked the hearing to ask Koskinen a whole bunch of important questions about tax law, like whether an IRS audit would prevent a presidential candidate (unnamed of course) from releasing their tax returns, or whether it's legal for a charitable foundation to be used to pay the foundation director's legal settlements. It was pretty sweet!

First off, New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, who said the hearings were "a sham" -- they're not actual impeachment hearings, since the R's simply can't round up enough votes to actually pass articles of impeachment -- wanted to know a few things about audits and releasing tax returns:

“Is there anything that would prohibit someone from releasing their tax returns, if they want to, because they're under audit?” Nadler said, without mentioning Trump by name.

“No,” Koskinen responded.

“Can an individual use other people's money run through a charitable foundation to enrich themselves or satisfy his personal debts or obligations?” Nadler asked.

Koskinen answered that tax-exempt organizations cannot use their funds to benefit their own members.

Then Nadler went into rather a lot of detail, asking if it would be legal for some hypothetical person to use their tax-exempt charitable foundation's money to, say, blow $12,000 on an autographed Tim Tebow f'ball helmet, or $20,000 on a portrait of himself, or even to use the foundation's funds to cover the costs of that hypothetical person's own legal settlements. Hypothetically.

That question didn't sit well with Judiciary Committee chair Bob Goodlatte, who objected that it was obviously outside of the hearing's scope, not to mention the witness's expertise.

Koskinen wouldn't go into detail on those particular expenditures, but did note that nonprofit foundation funds can't be used to benefit an individual donor or director of the nonprofit. Isn't that something?

Nadler wrapped up with a question about whether the IRS commissioner might face impeachment if the agency failed to look into such shocking misuses of a charitable organization, but Koskinen said that's not the IRS commissioner's decision anyway -- individual cases are handled at a lower level. It's almost as if the job is set up so that an IRS commissioner isn't supposed to be a political pawn, isn't it?

Next, Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat from California -- after saying Republicans' attempt to impeach Koskinen "doesnt' even pass the smell test" -- wanted to know whether an IRS commissioner could suspend an audit during a presidential campaign, or at least confirm whether an audit was still going on, or had ended.

Koskinen replied that the commissioner couldn't do any of that, because taxpayers' audit records are confidential. Damn, that's going to be a big disappointment to President Trump, who's almost certain to want audits of all his enemies.

At the end of Lofgren's testimony, Rep. Darrell Issa -- who when he chaired the House Ways and Means Committee did everything he could to make IRSGhazi a thing, but it was never a thing -- made a very funny joke, and was very pleased with his total burn:

“I'll refrain from asking about large nonprofits that might have taken and been influenced by foreign government contributions,” Issa said.

“That would be too sensitive to Mrs. Clinton."

Oh, Darrell. That's just sad -- you don't telegraph who your joke is about. Look at how Rep. Nadler did it. It's more fun that way.

Finally, Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee -- who spent most of her five minutes actually condemning the hearings and noting that several investigations have already cleared Koskinen of any wrongdoing -- wanted to know if it was appropriate for a charitable foundation to make political donations, and darned if that doesn't turn out to be illegal, too.

So at least the hearings were useful for something -- we've now got official confirmation that if "a person" did a lot of the stuff Donald Trump has been doing with his charity, they could be in big trouble, but that there's absolutely no reason for him -- or any other person -- to fear releasing their tax returns. That ought to be very reassuring to him!

[House Resolution 828 / The Hill]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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