Our Opinion: Another political show trial is looming


It's not entirely fair to assert that congressional Republicans don't do anything. The House Judiciary Committee, for example, is considering conducting impeachment hearings in the weeks ahead.

Impeachment hearings and Republicans, of course, bring to mind the seven-year &70 million farce conducted by special prosecutor Ken Starr that began with President Clinton's Whitewater business dealings (nothing illegal was found) and ended up with the Monica Lewinsky affair (nothing of consequence was found). This latest impeachment effort, however, involves Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen.

In 2013, when the IRS inspector general reported that the tax-exempt division gave extra scrutiny to conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status, Mr. Koskinen was brought in by President Obama to enact necessary reforms. There is no evidence that he has failed in that quest, but House Republicans claim he erased backup computer files containing thousands of possibly relevant emails. Mr. Koskinen counters that all relevant emails have been turned over to congressional investigators.

Given that Republicans don't appear to have any reason to suspect that Mr. Koskinen, who was not regarded as a political partisan when he was hired, is guilty of a cover-up or any crimes, the logical conclusion is that the House is simply picking on an agency it doesn't like. Republicans have cut the IRS budget then criticized it for customer service failings caused by those budget cuts. They have banned employee bonuses out of spite. They routinely threaten to eradicate the agency altogether, which would make it difficult to collect revenue to support pet projects in their congressional districts and to pour money into the Pentagon.

If Republicans want to engage in another political show trial, nothing can stop them. American voters should note, however, that real business is being left undone on Capitol Hill.


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