Los Angeles Times on Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen:
The House of Representatives was expected to vote last week on whether to impeach John Koskinen the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. It would be the first impeachment of an executive branch official other than the president since 1876.
The so-called privileged resolution to impeach Koskinen, which bypasses usual House procedure, is a preposterous exercise in ideological politics. Defeating it may require some profiles in courage from the GOP leadership.
The effort to impeach Koskinen, which is being led by the far-right House Freedom Caucus, is the latest installment of a long-running controversy over the alleged "targeting" by the IRS of tea party affiliates and other conservative groups that had sought tax-exempt status. In May 2013, an inspector general in the Treasury Department concluded that between 2010 and 2012, the agency had used "inappropriate criteria" — such as the terms "tea party" and "patriot" — in identifying applications for review.
Koskinen didn’t become commissioner until December 2013, but had to deal with the political aftershocks of the controversy, including investigations by outraged Republicans in Congress. Those seeking his impeachment claim that he failed to comply with a subpoena for records associated with the scrutiny of conservative groups and that he provided false and misleading information to Congress.
But the bill of particulars that accompanies the resolution proves, at most, that Koskinen wasn’t as attentive to the importance of securing records sought by Congress as he should have been. It’s also clear that he misspoke when he told a congressional committee that "every email" associated with Lois Lerner, a former IRS official responsible for tax-exempt groups, had been preserved; in fact, IRS employees in West Virginia had erased as many as 24,000 of her emails. (A Treasury Department inspector general found no evidence that the erasures were a deliberate attempt to destroy evidence.) But inaccurate or incomplete testimony isn’t the same as willfully lying to Congress.
In short, there is nothing to suggest that Koskinen is guilty of the "high crimes and misdemeanors" the Constitution cites as grounds for impeachment. And even if the House were to vote to impeach him, there is no chance that the Senate would provide the two-thirds majority necessary for a conviction.
Responsible Republicans — including Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — need to support that action and stand against this abuse of the impeachment power.
Wall Street Journal on Hillary Clinton’s recent comments about Donald Trump supporters:
In one of Saturday Night Live’s more memorable political skits, Jon Lovitz playing Michael Dukakis in 1988 exclaims after another silly statement by Dana Carvey as George H.W. Bush that "I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy!" More than a few Democrats are beginning to wonder if Hillary Clinton could soon be saying that about Donald Trump, of all people.
That’s the essence of a story in the Washington Post headlined "Democrats wonder and worry: Why isn’t Clinton far ahead of Trump?" The reporters quote former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle as saying that given "all the things that Trump has done, the numbers should be far more explicitly in her favor, but they’re not."
The tone is Lovitz-like disbelief, which helps to explain why the polls are tightening. Democrats have convinced themselves that Mr. Trump is such a threat to the republic that they can’t recognize that Mrs. Clinton is equally as unacceptable to most of the country. In a year when most Americans want change in Washington, Democrats don’t want to admit that they’ve nominated the epitome of the self-dealing status quo that disdains their fellow Americans.
Consider the reaction over the weekend to Mrs. Clinton’s comments Friday night that "just to be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables.’ Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it."
The remarks echo Mitt Romney’s comment in 2012 about the 47 percent on the government dole. The media played up the Romney comments as emblematic of an out-of-touch rich guy, and they probably contributed to his defeat. Mrs. Clinton’s comments were arguably worse, attributing hateful motives to tens of millions of Americans, but the media reaction has treated it like a mere foot fault.
Mrs. Clinton apologized, sort of, on Saturday by saying in a statement that, "Last night I was ‘grossly generalistic,’ and that’s never a good idea. I regret saying ‘half’ — that was wrong." But she went on to say she was otherwise right because some of Mr. Trump’s supporters are the likes of David Duke.
Yet the rest of what she said was almost as insulting. She said Mr. Trump’s other supporters are "people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well."
So she thinks half of Mr. Trump’s voters are loathsome bigots and the other half are losers and dupes who deserve Democratic pity. It’s no accident that Mrs. Clinton said this at a fundraiser headlined by Barbra Streisand, the friendliest of crowds, because this really is what today’s elite progressives believe about America’s great unwashed.
Mr. Trump has certainly made appalling comments, but Republicans and media conservatives have criticized him for it. They denounced his praise of Vladimir Putin. They assailed his attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel and his insensitivity to the Khan family. Some have said they can’t support the GOP nominee.
But where are the Democrats raising doubts about Mrs. Clinton’s behavior? Mrs. Clinton reneged on her confirmation promise to the Senate not to mix her State Department duties with the Clinton Foundation by doing favors for donors. She maintained a private email server to hide her official emails and lied about it to the public. Yet no prominent Democrat we know has denounced this deception, and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says there’s "too much ado" about it.
The great liberal media watchdogs aren’t challenging Mrs. Clinton either. They’re beating up NBC’s Matt Lauer because he spent too much time asking Mrs. Clinton about the emails during last week’s military forum. This is best understood as a collective warning to the moderators of the coming debates not to jeopardize their standing in polite progressive company by doing the same.
As Mrs. Clinton’s support has eroded in the polls, Democrats are figuring out that they may have nominated the only candidate who could lose to Donald Trump. But then they didn’t give themselves many good choices. Their Congressional leaders are old, and their bench in the states is thin after their election wipeouts of 2010 and 2014. Mrs. Clinton’s bid to be the first woman President fit the party’s priority for identity politics, and the Clinton machine would do what it takes to win.
Mrs. Clinton is still leading, and Mr. Trump is always a driverless-car accident waiting to happen. But it’s also obvious that a majority of Americans do not want to vote for an extension of the Clinton dynasty. They aren’t "deplorables." They’ve seen Mrs. Clinton in public life for 25 years and they know what they’ll be getting if she wins.