New information suggests Lois Lerner’s infamous hard drive may be recoverable after all
Lois Lerner has become the personification of the IRS targeting scandal.
Which brings us to her infamous hard drive crash. Recall that the new IRS Commissioner first told Congress that all of Lerner’s emails were recoverable and would be provided to investigating committees.
Sharyl Attkisson has a nice rundown of this explanation.
Friday’s revelation that the IRS “lost” Lois Lerner’s emails in a computer crash came ten months after Congress first requested them and seven months after they were first subpoenaed by the House Oversight Committee. But what IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified about the emails at a hearing in March appears to be at odds with his agency’s newer reported claims that the emails are irretrievable.
Under questioning by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) on the House Oversight Committee, Koskinen said IRS emails “get taken off and stored in servers.” That was part of the reason, he said, it was so difficult to provide them in a timely fashion.
As of March, the IRS had reportedly given Congress more than 400,000 pages of documents: just not the ones at issue.
Then last month came the confounding news — delivered offhandedly by the IRS — that Lerner’s hard drive was crashed, destroyed and recycled… along with six other IRS officials at the center of the targeting scandal.
In the wake of two Federal judges putting pressure on the IRS, the tune seems to have changed once again. Lo and behold, the Lerner hard drive may be recoverable after all!
House investigators said Tuesday that the computer hard drive of ex-agency official Lois Lerner — a key figure in the IRS targeting scandal — was only “scratched,” not irreparably damaged, as Americans have been led to believe.
GOP-led Ways and Means Committee investigators, in their quest to recover missing Lerner emails, learned her hard drive was damaged but recoverable by talking to IRS information-technology experts, after the government originally refused to make them available, according to the committee.
“It is unbelievable that we cannot get a simple, straight answer from the IRS about this hard drive,” said committee Chairman Dave Camp.
The Michigan Republican said the new information also raises more questions about potential criminal wrongdoing at the IRS because the committee was told no data was recoverable and the physical hard drive was recycled and potentially shredded.
In addition, learning that the hard drive was only scratched also raises questions about why the IRS refused to use outside experts to recover the data.
With this new information in hand, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee went another round on the topic today and once again IRS Commissioner Koskinen brought his A-game of bureaucratic arrogance.
Koskinen found out about the "scratched" hard drive report from Ways and Means this morning. He gets his news the same way Obama does. #IRS
— Razor (@hale_razor) July 23, 2014
Later during today’s hearing, the House’s resident bulldog — U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) — went after Koskinen again since the Commissioner’s story has changed at least three times on the topic of Lerner’s emails.
Gowdy finished off Koskinen in response to a comment the Commissioner had made earlier in hearing about low morale at the IRS these days.
“Mr. Koskinen … here’s a piece of advice I would give. If the folks like Lois Lerner and others would have spent more time working on the backlog [of tax exemption applications], more time working on their caseload and less time targeting groups and less time trying to overturn Supreme Court decisions they didn’t agree with, maybe morale would be better and maybe their backlogs would be lessened.”
One gets the feeling that this story has a long way to go before we know the truth — if we ever do. The easiest way would be for the Justice Department to seriously investigate, put serious pressure on Lerner and her fellow IRS officials. But no one believes that’s going to happen.
The less we know the more it seems people have gone out of their way to make it so.
Next week there will be another round of House hearings and Fox News correspondent Doug McElway told Bret Baier on the Special Report program tonight that rumors are swirling that IRS information technology staffers are on the docket to testify.DONATE
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