In just over six weeks, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s term expires. This allows President Trump to choose a new IRS chief who may have two high-profile and sensitive jobs: helping implement the the president’s proposed tax cuts and overseeing an audit of his tax returns.
Trump hasn’t nominated anyone to replace Koskinen yet, but as Bloomberg reports, Koskinen, who was hired by President Barack Obama and is loathed by congressional Republicans, who tried to impeach him in 2016, is unlikely to be reappointed.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, whose department includes the Internal Revenue Service, is said to be in the early stages of the selection process, according to two people familiar with the matter.
We would imagine this will be the next target for the left - potentially leading to demands of recusal as the slightest perception that Trump is trying to influence the agency overseeing his audit or any tax-related probes of his campaign’s ties to the Russian government would ignite a furor in Congress.
A commissioner who tried to interfere in either the Russia investigation or Trump’s audit would likely be foiled, former leaders of the agency told Bloomberg.
“The career folks at the IRS are not going to let anybody come into the organization, appointee or not, and tell them who and what they have to do in the way of examining someone,” said Lawrence Gibbs, who worked at the IRS for 17 years, including as the commissioner in the 1980s.
That didn’t stop former President Richard Nixon, whose attempts to manipulate tax investigations were cited by Congress in one of his articles of impeachment in 1974.
“The IRS pushed back when Nixon tried to exert political influence; that reinforced the probity of the IRS,” said Mark Iwry, who served as a senior adviser and deputy assistant secretary for tax policy at the Treasury during the Obama administration.
“IRS personnel know very well that improperly favoring or disfavoring a particular taxpayer would be absolutely wrong and contrary to IRS’s mission and decades of IRS practice and adherence to principle.”
Notably, while a permanent replacement for Koskinen must be confirmed by the Senate, by law the job can’t remain vacant.
The Internal Revenue Code requires the president to appoint an acting head of the agency.
“We are actively focused on nominating a new IRS commissioner. We will put someone in on a temporary basis if needed,” White House spokeswoman Natalie Strom said.
Coming as it does just a week after special counsel Mueller is reportedly gaining cooperation from the IRS, this will be one to grab the popcorn for as we are sure the mainstream media will find no end of conspiracy to chase.