IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, in front of Congressional investigators for the third time in the last month, admitted today that the agency does possess backup drives that may contain the elusive data that allegedly went missing when former Exempt Organizations administrator Lois Lerner’s computer hard drive crashed.
Koskinen would not attest to the probability of finding anything of interest on the backup drives, though, saying only that an inspector general’s investigation is in the process of reviewing their data. The tape-based devices, intended as six-month backup storage for everyday IRS electronic communications and client-side storage, reportedly date from the time Lerner’s computer hard drive crashed in 2011. Koskinen had told the House Oversight Committee at a previous hearing that the data could not be recovered.
During today’s session, Koskinen also informed a subcommittee of the House Oversight panel that the IRS was dropping its internal investigation into the political discrimination scandal that revolves around the missing data, saying the agency will henceforth defer to the inspector general’s investigation.
Republicans on the Oversight panel were as incredulous as ever at Koskinen’s testimony, insisting that the entire saga of missing emails and serendipitous hard drive crashes, along with the agency’s slow-footed and sometimes contradictory information, suggested a coverup.
“All I’m saying is that timing is pretty suspect,” Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said, with Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) adding, “You guys sat on the information for several months.”
Republicans continue to call for a special prosecutor to investigate the scandal.