Those Lois Lerner emails must really contain things that somebody with access doesn’t want Congress to see. After famously stonewalling the House Oversight Committee’s request to review the former IRS official’s communications, the IRS is now saying that two years’ worth of Lerner’s on-the-job electronic data has been lost to a computer glitch.
The agency informed the House Ways and Means Committee this week that it had forever lost Lerner’s emails from the period spanning January 2009 to April 2011 – a timeframe which overlaps the IRS’ political discrimination against conservative nonprofits leading up to President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign.
The Ways and Means Committee issued a statement today in response to the IRS’ admission, with Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) making his skepticism known:
Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) issued the following statement regarding the Internal Revenue Service informing the Committee that they have lost Lois Lerner emails from a period of January 2009 – April 2011. Due to a supposed computer crash, the agency only has Lerner emails to and from other IRS employees during this time frame. The IRS claims it cannot produce emails written only to or from Lerner and outside agencies or groups, such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or Democrat offices.
“The fact that I am just learning about this, over a year into the investigation, is completely unacceptable and now calls into question the credibility of the IRS’s response to Congressional inquiries. There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the Inspector General.
“Just a short time ago, Commissioner [John] Koskinen promised to produce all Lerner documents. It appears now that was an empty promise. Frankly, these are the critical years of the targeting of conservative groups that could explain who knew what when, and what, if any, coordination there was between agencies. Instead, because of this loss of documents, we are conveniently left to believe that Lois Lerner acted alone. This failure of the IRS requires the White House, which promised to get to the bottom of this, to do an Administration-wide search and production of any emails to or from Lois Lerner. The Administration has repeatedly referred us back to the IRS for production of materials. It is clear that is wholly insufficient when it comes to determining the full scope of the violation of taxpayer rights.”
At the end of the day, it’s all good, argued Texas Congressman Steve Stockman: just have the NSA hand over her metadata instead. After all, don’t they surveil government employees the way they surveil everybody else?
“I have asked NSA Director [Mike] Rogers to send me all metadata his agency has collected on Lois Lerner’s email accounts for the period which the House sought records,” said Stockman today. “The metadata will establish who Lerner contacted and when, which helps investigators determine the extent of illegal activity by the IRS.”
The House of Representatives found Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress on May 7 on a 231-187 vote for refusing to continue her testimony in earlier hearings in which she argued she’d done nothing wrong, before invoking her Constitutional protection against self-incrimination. The House is continuing its investigation.