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LIVE House Hearing: IRS Commissioner testifies on missing Lois Lerner emails

LIVE House Hearing: IRS Commissioner testifies on missing Lois Lerner emails

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is expected to testify in a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee on Friday morning at 9:00am EST. According to a statement from the committee, the hearing will focus on the IRS’s recent statement about the production of emails of former IRS official Lois Lerner.

You should be able to view the livestream of the hearing at the committee’s UStream channel.

[Hearing in Recess — here are some videos]


Before the start:

As we now know, the IRS notified the Ways and Means Committee last week that Lerner’s emails for the crucial period of 2009 to 2011 had been lost due to a computer crash.

After that claim triggered much skepticism, the IRS released emails between Lerner and personnel from the IRS Information Technology Division, in which there was written correspondence in mid-2011 concerning the attempts to recover Lerner’s hard drive. Those emails showed that after attempts from “several highly skilled technicians, including HP experts,” the data on the hard drive still could not be recovered.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa subsequently issued a subpoena for Lerner’s hard drive and other electronic devices.

Then, earlier this week, it was discovered that “in addition to Lois Lerner’s emails, the IRS cannot produce records from six other IRS employees involved in the targeting of conservative groups,” according to the Ways and Means Committee.

On Wednesday, it was also reported that Lerner’s crashed hard drive has since been recycled, making it unlikely that those missing emails can ever be recovered.

[Featured image: via waysandmeansdems video, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testifies at a February committee hearing]


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at least he’s under oath.

Now he says ‘Seven other custodians’, not the six previous.

Need to subpoena the ‘HP technician’ that supposedly tried and could not recover anything.

Find out his actual level of expertise, and exactly what he 2was instructed to do, and what he did, in detail.

There’s a big difference between ‘telling the new junior admin to see if he could copy any files’, vs, say, sending the disk to a data recovery company, the ones who will even take the drive apart and rebuild it from platter up if needed. The FBI uses them the CIA uses them, the NSA has their own on staff.

Or even letting a senior tech, ‘the top guy’, see what he can do.

And have him look at Lerner’s 6 (or 7 ?) subordinates who also all had drive failures, curiously partial loss of email history during the same time period.

And the email servers, the backup archive servers, etc.

    Archer in reply to pjm. | June 20, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Those are all good questions that need to be asked.

    So, naturally, the probability of them being asked is somewhere between Slim and None, and Slim just left town.

Somebody other than the FBI (the Federal Bureau of Indifference under Eric Holder) should hire hacker Sabu to find the ‘missing’ emails.

This asshole says “a special prosecutor would be a MONUMENTAL WASTE OF TAXPAYER FUNDS”

Finally, something the IRS is good at !

There will be a certain irony if the IRS is actually telling the truth here. If their Exchange server has no long-term retention of email records like Congress mandated long ago, and if Lois Lerner had to create a .pst file on her local hard drive to hold email records that were too large for the relatively small Exchange mailbox, and if the hard drive did indeed have a real failure that destroyed the data, and if it was not backed up on a server drive like such critical records are supposed to be, then (whew) they might be innocent of any intentional evidence tampering in this felony.


Now when you start seeing 7 or 8 other IRS employees claiming the exact same improbable chain of events, we’re getting into lottery winning without buying a ticket probability here.

    Exiliado in reply to georgfelis. | June 20, 2014 at 10:16 am

    And the biggest irony would be that all of those people still have a job after such gross incompetence.

    Incompetent or criminal?
    That is the question.

    SukieTawdry in reply to georgfelis. | June 20, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    The Citizens United ruling is released in January 2010. The IRS begins using “tea party” as a key word for enhanced scrutiny in March 2010. Sen. Max Baucus writes the IRS commissioner requesting an investigation of tax-exempt groups in September 2010. Lerner’s computer, among others, crashes in early summer 2011. Makes you real curious about what surely would have been a flurry of activity during the period between March 2010 and summer 2011, doesn’t it.

That’s the problem. Nobody believes you.



“There will be a certain irony if the IRS is actually telling the truth here.”

There’d a certain irony if I actually grew the 10 inch schwang I’ve been bragging about for 20 years, too.

the bigger question here, and one that the idiocy over the hard drives hides, is how the automatic backups were altered and/or destroyed.
the hard drive is a red herring.
the backups are the blue whale.

The thing that blows my mind the most about this situation is that the excuses this administration is offering are ILLEGAL.

Okay, there are laws put in place by Congress about preserving federal records which were updated several years ago to include email.

Even if we take what this administration is saying at face value and how all these emails were lost – their actions were illegal!

    To which the ultra-cynical reply is, “Congress has passed a law, now let Congress enforce it.” Because Holder sure won’t. I mean, the FBI received 1.1 million documents the transmission of which was blatantly illegal, and it did nothing for 4 years, and still does nothing.

      pfg in reply to JBourque. | June 20, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      Isn’t this the big, unspoken flaw in the entire system?

      If one branch refuses to check the other. Congress passes a bill not caring whether it’s constitutional or not; it just wants the subject matter placed into law. The president, equally uncaring as to the Constitution, signs it; he too wants this further federal power. The bill becomes law.

      When challenged in court, the court begs off for any number of reasons. Ripeness, non-justifiability, mootness, plaintiff lacks standing, et alia. Or worse, the court, also disregarding the Constitution, gives the law an okay.


      “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

        Archer in reply to pfg. | June 20, 2014 at 12:35 pm

        Not a flaw in the system, per se, but a massive shortcoming in how it’s being run.

        Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. — John Adams (emphasis added)

        The system works just fine as long as the people running it are moral and ethical, and live up to their roles, including checking and policing the other branches. It falls apart when they shirk their duties or exploit the system into doing things it wasn’t ever intended to do.

        When that happens, as I believe it’s happening now, the inmates are running the asylum.

Said her Blackberry (he didn’t know if she had one) would use the same mail system. She synched her Blackberry, through an exchange server to a PST file on her desktop. Right! Can’t wait till the Tech who had to set that clusterfax up testifies.

Screw this guy. The people to subpoena is the IRS’s CIO and the head of IT operations. They should show up with all the logs of backup activity for the e-mail servers that handled the e-mails in question AND their written standards and procedures for the running of the backups and rotation and disposition of the tapes – along with the logs of how the tapes were handled.

    Archer in reply to RonF. | June 20, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    They should. The Congress-people running this investigation should be demanding all of those things, up to and including the above-mentioned suggestion of getting the HP “technician” who attempted to recover Lerner’s hard drive. Find out all of their technical training, everything they tried, the results of each action, and what actions weren’t tried (such as a professional data recovery company; they can work miracles from almost nothing).

    They should do this. Unfortunately, Congress is populated mostly by attorneys and business executives. Not IT people. I’d bet money that a shockingly large number call IT support for help getting their own e-mail, and the ones that don’t think they’re expert enough to know what questions to ask.

    And therein lies the problem: they don’t know. Worse still, they don’t know that they don’t know, so they don’t think to ask someone who does know. I predict this “investigation” will go like all the others. A lot of questions asked, several people put on the stand, and then … nothing.

      MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Archer. | June 20, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      I think they get plenty of feedback from guys who do know.
      OTOH even the experts are often stupid.

    If their network administrators are as incompetent as they seem, the Exchange log files on the server have probably never been cleared.

I wonder if this could resonate with an interesting twist when taxpayers claim that they can’t produce records.

And by the way, it’s cake to produce emails with a 2011 timestamp.

Let’s assume for a minute that there was indeed a hard drive crash.
Let’s assume for the same minute that information was lost.

How stupid is Lois Lerner, and how stupid are ALL of their IT “specialists” that they did not recover such information RIGHT AWAY from backup?
How stupid are they all to embark in a costly forensic reconstruction of a hard drive, when all that information was readily available at the time?

Or should I ask, How stupid do they think WE are?

    pfg in reply to Exiliado. | June 20, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    In answer to your question, Really Stupid. And they know that there’s nothing we can do about it.

    Over the past week we’ve heard from IT pros galore that an individually crashed hard drive, even 6 or 7 of them, is an irrelevancy since all pre-crash data is routinely backed-up. Even the stories of the IRS’s data guys working on her hard drive, saying “we can’t recover anything,” really makes for bad acting b/c no one is going to spend lots of time trying to retrieve data from an iffy hard drive when all the data can be obtained readily from the back-ups. This is all for public consumption.

      MarkS in reply to pfg. | June 20, 2014 at 12:30 pm

      You’re right! There is nothing we, the citizenry, can do about it and there is nothing Boehner has the balls to do and Obama, Lerner and the IRS know it, so for now it ‘s a snarky GFY to Congress and the American people.

I wish we really had confrontational government. Ryan did a bit of it here. But we need it on a really, really big scale.

Ryan’s top-of-the-ticket guy coulda and rightly shoulda had Obama on the ropes throughout the 2012 campaign. But Mitt acted as Mittens, a nice guy.

We need fighters.

Look I know what I am talking about, there is no reason why they can’t produce the emails other than they destroyed them. Its really fucking hard to destroy emails completely. They are stored very simply and in multiple locations and exist in multiple contexts. You would need to purge all of them and that would require coordination among different site admins and Data Centers. Everything they are saying is Bullshit, about as close to impossible as it can get.

So her hard drive crashes and she loses her emails. So she sends an EMAIL (I thought that had crashed) and seeks only the restoration of personal files?

    Archer in reply to Loren. | June 20, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    You missed the point, but somehow nicked it from the side.

    Her hard drive crashed, so she “lost her e-mails.” Then, she sends an e-mail – which runs through a separate system not on her hard drive – requesting the restoration of personal files.

    The point is that e-mail, even if stored on her hard drive, is run through other systems, and backed up through those other systems. Her crashed hard drive doesn’t mean a damn thing. All of her e-mails should be backed up and stored on the e-mail servers or in off-line storage that aren’t affected by her hard drive crash.

    And this is equally true for the 6 (7?) other IRS employees.

Congressional investigation? Please. None of these perps has the slightest respect for the authority of Congress. They are going to lie under oath, destroy evidence and obstruct justice till this all goes away – because they *know* they can get way with it.

You want to get to the bottom of this? Then you need to detain (as in jail) every single manager level IRS employee associated with it. Only then will someone speak truth.

No doubt too much to hope for, but these bastards/bitches should have their asses nailed to the wall, every last one from Lerner up. This is simply bullshit, utter bullshit. Criminal bullshit. The scope of criminal activities and quasi-legal intimidation tactics, not to mention finger-pointing (as in ‘middle finger’) employed by this administration is mind-boggling.

That our so-called ‘watchdog media’ don’t give a rip even moreso. OK, maybe that’s a stretch. Not really surprised by that.

Oops IRS! Your jobs, your federal pensions, your paychecks… they all went missing!

Simple, they now get to live by the same rules we do when under an audit: Guilty until proven innocent.

Well, it looks like this is shaping up to be IT – the struggle between Parliament and the King. The executive is seeing if it can get away with the most blatant and obvious criminality by a combination of bluster, denial, and coverup. If the legislative branch fails this time, then there are no limits to what the executive can – and, I suspect, will – try to do.

At least there is no provision in the Constitution for the President to dissolve Congress in “emergencies”. I think we all remember how well that worked out for the Weimar republic. On the other hand, maybe he won’t have to dissolve it to have his way, since Congress has done a pretty good job of neutering itself.

The next step will be for the IRS to push to move things along quickly while Obama is still in a position to issue pardons.

Am I reading this correctly but does it seem like John Koskinen is utterly lacking in humility?

His attitude is confrontational and aggressive in a situation where he should be respectful.

Does he truly believe the “six drive crash” or is he just a brazen liar?

    Exiliado in reply to RuthC. | June 20, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    No need to be humble.
    He knows(believes) “the powers that be” will have his back. They surely promised him so.

    What he doesn’t know is that “the powers that be” will throw him under the bus if the pan gets too hot. Lucky him, Republicans are just a bunch of wussies that will never light the fire.

      RuthC in reply to Exiliado. | June 20, 2014 at 1:59 pm

      The completely tarnishes the public’s confidence in governmental functions.
      Once the US public starts being cynical about government we will become like Europeans, our confidence and morale to push forward will be sapped and then we end up in a universe of moral relativity.

DrNefarious | June 20, 2014 at 6:58 pm

Lerner’s hard drive is NOT important. That hard drive could be at the bottom of the Indian Ocean with that Malaysian plane and we could still retrieve all the data and emails on it. Its the SERVERS that are important. The IRS backs up all data, emails on MULTIPLE back up severs. The back ups are backed up, and those back ups of the back ups are backed up. Add about 10 more backups after that, and that is how backed up everything is.We could retrieve emails from the Clinton Administration if we wanted to.

The DOJ cant help us because they are complicit in the scam, so we must hire a special prosecutor to get into the IRS asap before they can cover up and delete more data. A prosecutor needs to bring in unbiased tech geeks from the top co’s in Silicon Valley. They will EASILY be ale to retrieve all the data, and they will be able to see the trail of the persons who deleted/damaged the computers and servers. Nothing can be completely deleted. Its impossible and doesn’t exist. EVERYTHING is retrievable.

This is the most egregious scam of all the Obama scams. This is an impeachable offense, just ask Nixon.

    Archer in reply to DrNefarious. | June 20, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    Trouble is, nobody – and I mean, nobody – is going to impeach Obama.

    Three words: President. Joe. Biden.

      tom swift in reply to Archer. | June 20, 2014 at 8:35 pm


      Biden’s dumb as a doorstop, but he’s not petty, vengeful, spiteful, nasty, vainglorious, socialistic, homicidal, or any more criminally inclined than run-of-the-mill Democrats.

      What’s the worst President Biden could do? Neglect foreign affairs and let the world go to hell in a handbasket? Fall flat on his face in the fight against terrorists? Arm Mexican criminals? Throw the country’s borders open to gangsters and disease carriers? Pervert the Justice Department, the IRS, and everything in sight? Rack up horrific debt? Whip up racial animus? We’re getting all that stuff now; Biden wouldn’t be the problem even if all that continued.

The Laws of Probability.

Let’s stipulate for now that actually 8 drives (Lerner’s plus seven others) crashed.

Let us not discuss that the only place the emails were (both sent and received) were each person’s hard drive.

What is the probability that in all 8 crashes all the emails were totally wiped out on all 8 drives – that there isn’t even one crashed hard drive that could be partially restored?

No chance.