The IRS “lost” former IRS manager Lois Lerner’s emails to and from other IRS employees sent between January of 2009 and April of 2011 due to a ‘computer crash.’ That’s according to the House Ways and Means Committee, which had requested the emails.
Some of the missing emails are said to cover communications between Lerner and outside agencies or groups such as the White House, the Treasury Department, the Department of Justice, the Federal Elections Commission and the offices of Democrats.
Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), who heads the Ways and Means Committee, issued a statement today saying that, “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.”
The Ways and Means Committee requested the documents as part of its investigation as to who was responsible for the IRS targeting of conservative groups to allegedly delay or withhold the granting of their tax-exempt status.
In the same letter the IRS sent Congress Friday afternoon, the Ways and Means Committee says the the agency also urged Congress to end the investigation into IRS wrongdoing. President Obama has stated that there is not a “smidgen” of corruption involving the IRS controversy and has promised that his administration will get to the bottom of matters.
In May, the House voted to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress after she refused to testify in the case. She had twice invoked her Fifth Amendment right. Republicans claimed that she waived that right by declaring her innocence before refusing to answer questions at a hearing in June of last year. The Oversight Committee’s lead Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md), argued that contempt charges were out of line because the Committee did not clearly direct her to answer its questions.
Today, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) issued a statement saying: “Isn’t it convenient for the Obama Administration that the IRS now says it has suddenly realized it lost Lois Lerner’s emails requested by Congress and promised by Commissioner John Koskinen? Do they really expect the American people to believe that, after having withheld these emails for a year, they’re just now realizing the most critical time period is missing?”
According to Issa, the IRS has “potentially illegally” shared confidential taxpayer information with the FBI and lost crucial email records even as the agency continues to withhold information by not fully complying with the Committee’s subpoena.
“If there wasn’t nefarious conduct that went much higher than Lois Lerner in the IRS targeting scandal, why are they playing these games?” asked Issa.