IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told a House panel that congressional investigators can try to hold him in contempt over the Tea Party targeting scandal whenever they think that they can make the charge stick, something he thinks is unlikely.
The topic came up when Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., asked for a date at which it would be appropriate for agency officials to be held in contempt if they have not yet provided the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee with documents that have been requested from the IRS.
"I think the timeline is whenever you think you could actually sustain that in a court," Koskinen replied. "I think we have a strong case that we have been cooperative, continue to be cooperative, and anybody looking at the systems we have and the time it takes would find that we've provided you more cooperation than, in fact, might be expected. And I think that, in fact, arguing and threatening contempt in that situation without understanding the circumstances is probably not going to be held up."
It wasn't the only time that accusations flew during a testy congressional hearing, as Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, forced Koskinen to admit that he had patterned his testimony on a proposed regulation affecting the political activity of nonprofits after a Treasury Department official's letter to Congress. Koskinen had previously said he had not conferred with administration officials.
"Do you view that as plagiarism, Mr. Koskinen?" Jordan asked.
"If I were publishing it for credit of one kind or another, I would," Koskinen replied. "If I find a good idea somewhere and I think it's appropriate to put into the public domain, I'm happy to do that."