Quick history lesson: As various investigators dug into the IRS targeting scandal, they discovered that a large cache of emails sent and received by key agency figure Lois Lerner were missing. The emails in question were sent between 2009 and 2011, the time period in which the abusive scheme was concocted and implemented. We were told that the lost emails were a result of a "hard drive crash" that happened to occur just ten days after a Republican Congressman made the first inquiry into alleged targeting practices. Those who've expressed doubts about the "crash" claims -- namely, a super majority of the American people -- were mocked and dismissed by the White House as adherents to a "conspiracy theory." Lerner's suspicious efforts shortly after the scandal broke in 2013 to determine whether the IRS' internal instant messaging system was archived anywhere are also indicative of nothing, the administration insists. Also shunted aside are the facts that email storage guidelines (based on federal law) were ignored, as was the requirement that the agency immediately report the loss of emails to the National Archives.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified repeatedly that his agency made every attempt to recover Lerner's emails after the supposed 2011 crash -- an assertion that has been contradicted by Koskinen himself, and by subsequent reports. One such report was the late July bombshell that Lerner's hard drive had only been "scratched," and that in-house IT professionals at the IRS had recommended enlisting "outside experts to recover the data," which they believed to be possible at the time. For some odd reason, the IRS declined to do so, and instead destroyed Lerner's hard drive permanently. Which brings us to the latest twist, reported by Dan last night: A Justice Department attorney told the Watchdog group Judicial Watch that the federal government does, in fact, back up all electronic records. So the emails exist somewhere, according to this lawyer, but it'd be really hard to track them down. Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton described the bewildering interaction on Fox News yesterday:
"They say it would be too hard to go and get Lois Lerner's emails from that back-up system. Everything we’ve been hearing about scratched hard drives, missing e-mails of Lois Lerner, other IRS officials, other officials in the Obama administration–it’s all been a pack of malarkey."
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography