IRS Admits: We Haven't Bothered to Search For Lois Lerner's "Missing" Emails

Katie Pavlich
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Posted: Nov 06, 2014 8:40 AM
IRS Admits: We Haven't Bothered to Search For Lois Lerner's "Missing" Emails

According to a release from government Watch Dog Judicial Watch, the IRS hasn't even bothered to look for "missing" emails belonging to former head of tax exempt organizations Lois Lerner, the woman at the center of the targeting scandal. As a reminder, the IRS said in June that two years of Lerner's emails were lost in a hard drive crash. 

According to the House Ways and Means Committee, the IRS has "lost" two years of emails belonging to former head of tax exempt organizations Lois Lerner. The IRS doesn't have a record of her emails to outside groups or government agencies from January 2009 through April 2011, conveniently encompassing some of the same time when tea party groups were being targeted for extra scrutiny and possible criminal prosecution. The IRS says the loss of emails is due to a "computer crash" and claims emails from or to Lerner from the White House, Democratic members of Congress, the Treasury Department, FEC and Department of Justice cannot be located. They do however have emails belonging to Lerner that she sent to other IRS employees.

The admission from the IRS that officials haven't gone looking for emails comes after Judicial Watch made a "request that a federal court judge allow discovery into how “lost and/or destroyed” IRS records relating to the targeting of conservative groups may be retrieved." Essentially, the IRS is doing everything it can to run out the clock on the scandal and the investigation. 

Judicial Watch lawyers reviewed the IRS court filings and concluded that the agency “did not undertake any significant efforts to obtain the emails.”

IRS attorneys conceded that they had failed to search the agency’s servers for missing emails because they decided that “the servers would not result in the recovery of any information.” They admitted they had failed to search the agency’s disaster recovery tapes because they had “no reason to believe that the tapes are a potential source of recovering” the missing emails. And they conceded that they had not searched the government-wide back-up system because they had “no reason to believe such a system … even exists.”

The IRS admitted to Judge Sullivan that the agency failed to “submit declarations about any of the foregoing items because it had no reason to believe that they were sources from which to recover information lost as a result of Lerner’s hard drive failure.” [Emphasis added] Department of Justice attorneys for the IRS had previously told Judicial Watch that Lois Lerner’s emails, indeed all government computer records, are backed up by the federal government in case of a government-wide catastrophe. The Obama administration attorneys said that this back-up system would be too onerous to search. In the October federal court filing, the IRS does not deny that the government-wide back-up system exists, and acknowledges to the court that 760 other email “servers” have been discovered but had not been searched. The IRS also refuses to disclose the names of the IRS officials who may have information about the IRS scandal, citing unspecified threats. The IRS says it pulled documents about the scandal from various employees into a “Congressional database” and that it has only searched this one “database” for missing records. Incredibly, the IRS has not searched any of the IRS’s regular computer systems for any missing records and admits that it has only searched a “database” that it knows does not contain the missing records being sought by the court, Judicial Watch, and Congress.

After two court orders, the IRS has failed to explain why emails in question, and emails necessary to fully investigate the inappropriate targeting of conservative groups, haven't been produced. 

“The Obama IRS couldn’t care less about the federal court’s orders to provide full information about the ‘missing’ Lois Lerner emails,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “Instead, the IRS, with the help of a compromised Justice Department, has engaged in a series of transparently evasive distractions. The IRS would have Judicial Watch wait for years before we can ask questions about the cover-up that is going on now. The IRS thinks it can game a federal court, Congress, and the American people. Having delayed accountability for over two years, the Obama administration is prepared to stonewall on the IRS targeting of Obama’s ‘enemies list’ until after the 2016 presidential election. Judicial Watch’s lawsuit can continue to break through this obstruction of justice, especially if the court approves our effort to put select Obama officials under oath.”

Yesterday Senator Mitch McConnell, who will be voted the new Majority Leader next week, said he is interested in pursuing the IRS scandal further once Republicans take their seats in Congress early next year.