IRS Admits It Destroyed Lois Lerner’s Blackberry After Congress Began Investigating Scandal

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When the IRS met Judge Emmet G. Sullivan’s deadline last Friday to produce sworn documents explaining a variety of things about how and why Lois Lerner’s emails went missing, it dropped a couple of bombs for anyone who’s been following the ever-simmering IRS scandal.

The IRS admitted that it had destroyed Lerner’s mobile Blackberry device months after it learned that member of Congress were looking into allegations of political discrimination against conservative groups during Barack Obama’s reelection campaign.

The agency’s designated oath-taker for this testimony, IRS tech officer Stephen Manning, told the court the IRS had wiped the data from Lerner’s Blackberry — issued to her in November 2009 — in June 2012 and had issued her a fresh one in February 2012.

The New York Observer’s Sidney Powell (a former DOJ attorney for 10 years) put this in context:

We all know by now that Lois Lerner’s hard drive crashed in June 2011 and was destroyed by IRS. The emails of up to twenty other related IRS officials were missing in remarkably similar “crashes,” leading many to speculate that Lois Lerner’s Blackberry perhaps held the key. Now, the Observer can confirm that a year after the infamous hard drive crash, the IRS destroyed Ms. Lerner’s Blackberry — and without making any effort to retain the emails from it.

Judge Sullivan has had to pry information from the IRS to learn anything about Ms. Lerner’s Blackberry. Now, with these latest revelations, I’m confident he’s not finished.

In two elusive and nebulous sworn declarations, we can glean that Ms. Lerner had two Blackberries. One was issued to her on November 12, 2009. According to a sworn declaration, this is the Blackberry that contained all the emails (both sent and received) that would have been in her “Outlook” and drafts that never were sent from her Blackberry during the relevant time.

With incredible disregard for the law and the Congressional inquiry, the IRS admits that this Blackberry “was removed or wiped clean of any sensitive or proprietary information and removed as scrap for disposal in June 2012.” This is a year after her hard drive “crash” and months after the Congressional inquiry began.

…Lerner was issued another Blackberry for Valentine’s Day 2012 — also after she came under fire for her targeting of conservative groups. The IRS still has that Blackberry. It’s now in the possession of the Inspector General of the Treasury, but the new device would not have the data from the prior three years. That was most likely the point of getting the new device.

The Blackberry news came on the same day that a lawyer from the Department of Justice representing the IRS admitted to Judicial Watch — the plaintiff in a lawsuit against the IRS over its alleged discrimination — that the federal government backs up everything, everything, everything in case of a cataclysmic event, and that includes Lois Lerner’s emails.

So they do exist after all; apparently, they always have.

But, the DOJ lawyer argued, it would be too tough to retrieve those emails from the boundless trove of government data (kinda obviates the act of backing the data up in the first place, doesn’t it?)

Here’s how Judicial Watch responded to that on Monday:

Department of Justice attorneys for the Internal Revenue Service told Judicial Watch on Friday that Lois Lerner’s emails, indeed all government computer records, are backed up by the federal government in case of a government-wide catastrophe.  The Obama administration attorneys said that this back-up system would be too onerous to search.  The DOJ attorneys also acknowledged that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) is investigating this back-up system.

We obviously disagree that disclosing the emails as required would be onerous, and plan to raise this new development with Judge Sullivan.

This is a jaw-dropping revelation.  The Obama administration had been lying to the American people about Lois Lerner’s missing emails. There are no “missing” Lois Lerner emails – nor missing emails of any of the other top IRS or other government officials whose emails seem to be disappearing at increasingly alarming rate. All the focus on missing hard drives has been a diversion. The Obama administration has known all along where the email records could be — but dishonestly withheld this information. You can bet we are going to ask the court for immediate assistance in cutting through this massive obstruction of justice.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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