The last thing the House Oversight Committee knew about IRS manager Lois Lerner's hard drive was what the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration told them: that they had no idea where it was.
Now, according to sources who spoke to Politico, it looks like the hard drive has been "recycled."
“We’ve been informed that the hard drive has been thrown away,” Politico quotes Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) as having said "in a brief hallway interview."
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) subpoenaed Lerner's damaged hard drive earlier this week after the IRS reported that a computer crash in 2011 had destroyed key Lerner emails in the investigation into the IRS' alleged targeting of conservative tax-exempt groups.
Some technology experts have said that because emails are required to be backed up and stored on servers, they are still retrievable. However, others have said the crucial materials were only retained for six months.
“We believe the standard IRS protocol was followed in 2011 for disposing of the broken hard drive. A bad hard drive, like other broken Information Technology equipment, is sent to a recycler as part of our regular process,” an IRS spokesman told POLITICO.
Issa's office issued a statement tonight saying, "If the IRS truly got rid of evidence in a way that violated the Federal Records Act and ensured the FBI never got a crack at recovering files from an official claiming a Fifth amendment protection against self-incrimination, this is proof their whole line about 'losing' e-mails in the targeting scandal was just one more attempted deception. Old and useless binders of information are still stored and maintained on federal agency shelves; official records, like the e-mails of a prominent official, don't just disappear without a trace unless that was the intention."
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testifies at hearings on Friday and Monday.