The IRS has announced the disappearance of two years worth of e-mails from embattled former official Lois Lerner to outside agencies such as the White House and Justice Department. The announcement comes just days after the revelation that the IRS, under fire for targeting conservative non-profit organizations, had illegally shared a 1.1 million document database with the FBI prior to the 2010 midterm elections.
The computer crash claim is curious in that it only affected e-mails between Lerner and outside organizations, but not internal correspondence. The missing e-mails encompass that same time frame as the midterm elections, running from January of 2009 to April, 2011.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) issued the following statement:
“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 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.”
It is the kind of shocking announcement that is typical of an administration news dump on a late Friday afternoon. Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany, Jr. (R-LA) would also add that the admission came buried deep within a completely unrelated letter. He stated that the group also urged “Congress to end the investigations into IRS wrongdoing.”
If anything, the fact that the group is claiming that a computer crash only wiped out certain highly relevant e-mails should only heighten curiosity into the investigation. Not to mention the fact that it took over a year to come to that conclusion, something that should have been revealed in short order.
Previous reports show that Lerner was not only in contact with the FBI in an attempt to aid criminal prosecution of political opponents by sharing confidential taxpayer information, but that she had done the same in correspondence with Democratic members of Congress and the Department of Justice.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa’s office just released a statement in response to the news. Issa skeptically states that the sudden realization that Lerner’s e-mails were lost is “convenient for the Obama Administration.” He added, “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?”
Issa would also question why the White House would “play these games” if not for the possibility that there was “nefarious conduct that went much higher than Lois Lerner in the IRS targeting scandal.
Patrick Howley of the Daily Caller and other pundits have already compared the missing e-mails to the eighteen and a half minute gap in the Watergate tapes, allegedly mistakenly caused by Nixon’s secretary Rose Mary Woods.