WASHINGTON, May 23 (UPI) -- When the U.S. House Judiciary Committee meets Tuesday to address allegations involving Internal Revenue Service chief John Koskinen, it is also expected to consider taking an action that hasn't happened in 140 years -- impeachment.
The panel is expected to discuss allegations that Koskinen lied under oath when testifying before Congress and defied a congressional subpoena.
Such a proceeding is a rare event, as congressional bodies rarely take steps to remove any administration official from office. The last time that happened was 1876, 140 years ago, when Secretary of War William Belknap was impeached.
Koskinen, 76, was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2013. Last year, the Department of Justice declined to charge any IRS administrator over "targeting" allegations that claimed the tax branch singled out conservative applications for exempt status.
In 2013, the agency revealed that it had singled out certain groups for additional scrutiny based on their names and political themes. Many Republicans said the IRS specifically targeted conservative groups, such as the Tea Party.
A two-year federal investigation resulted in no charges of wrongdoing, but the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, has moved forward with efforts to impeach Koskinen. A Senate investigation concluded that "mismanagement" led to the agency scandal.
Tuesday's misconduct hearing to discuss the purported misdeeds of the IRS, observers say, is largely unprecedented.
Koskinen, in fact, wasn't even a government employee when the scandal first began to unravel -- leading many to opine that it's virtually impossible to hold him accountable for the agency's questionable actions.
Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress feel the matter should be approached cautiously.
"We can have our disagreements with him, but that doesn't mean there's an impeachable offense," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said last week.
The IRS said Monday that Koskinen will not appear at Tuesday's meeting, having just returned from an international tax conference.
Chaffetz, who's carried the GOP flag in other high-profile partisan House investigations like the scandal involving Planned Parenthood last year, said Koskinen still bears some accountability for the targeting affair.
"He provided, I think, a whole series of false testimony," he said. "You can't be under a duly issued subpoena and mislead Congress, and when you provide false testimony there has to be a consequence."
Chaffetz claims the IRS under Koskinen's leadership destroyed documents related to the investigation and lied about emails that may have helped investigators in the case.
"We're left with no other remedy," he added. "The FBI is not going to take action. The president is not going to take action, but clearly he provided false testimony."