WASHINGTON — Several Democratic congressmen struck a very apologetic tone at Friday’s House Ways and Means Committee after several Republican congressmen aggressively questioned IRS Commissioner John Koskinen about missing e-mails and Koskinen’s opening remarks noting that he felt no need to apologize to Congress.
California Congressman Xavier Becerra coddled Koskinen and apologetically told him that “you deserve better.”
Becerra gave the IRS commissioner tips about breathing and handling the GOP’s difficult questions.
“This hearing has been conducted as less of a hearing then it might have been as an inquisition. You deserve better. You certainly are obligated to give truthful answers, and we appreciate your trying to,” he told the IRS commissioner at Friday’s hearing. “If you find that you are being badgered or not given an opportunity to respond, take a breath and then try to get your answer out. If you are not given the opportunity, then recognize that again this is maybe not a hearing but an inquistion.”
One Democrat was disgusted with his fellow Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan for his “overzealous” questions during the hearing.
Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) told the commissioner that the committee was “desperate to find any type of evidence that may point to a cover-up that does not exist.”
Kind defended Koskinen as a “public servant who by all accounts is a model of integrity, honesty and professionalism.”
He called the IRS investigation a “fishing expedition and witch hunt.” (RELATED: Paul Ryan Goes Ballistic On IRS Commissioner Over Lost Emails: ‘I Don’t Believe You’)
Other congressmen joined in on indirectly attacking Ryan’s questioning.
“You have an individual here who has a distinguished career, who served in Republican and Democratic administrations, coupled with the fact he took an oath today. Unless those here didn’t hear him take the oath or witnessed take the oath and then have people suggest him ‘I don’t believe you.’ That is isn’t the way this committee has functioned in the past,” Massachusetts Rep. Richard Neal said.
Neal called the investigation “a conspiracy” that is “not based on facts” and “the only thing that is missing is Oliver Stone.”
Congressman Lyle Doggett of Texas joined in, calling the investigation “an endless conspiracy theory.”
Michigan Democrat Rep. Sander Levin was effusive in being “glad” the commissioner was at the hearing “to set the record straight.”
Levin repeatedly told Koskinen that “we’re glad you’re here today” and he blamed Republicans for “conspiracy theories.”
“Republican conspiracy theories have started anew. The evidence today reinforces this long evident truth, the prevailing conspiracy in this matter is that of the Republicans desire to stir their base, tie the problem to the White House, and keep up this drumbeat until the November election. I’m glad that you, Commissioner Koskinen, is here with us today to set the record straight,” the Michigan Democrat told the IRS commissioner. “We are glad you are here.”
Another lawmaker charged that the GOP “assaults the IRS at every turn.”
“Irony is now in the Republican party to assault the IRS at every return and undercut its ability to function,” said Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon.