Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) lit into IRS Commissioner John Koskinen over the missing Lois Lerner emails at a Friday House Ways and Means Committee hearing, flatly telling him he didn’t believe his excuse for them being gone.
The emails of Lerner, the former tax-exemption chief at the center of the investigation into IRS targeting of conservative groups, were reported lost in a “hard drive crash,” an explanation which Koskinen said was on the line.
“I’m sitting here, listening to this testimony, I don’t believe it,” Ryan said. “That’s your problem. Nobody believes you. The Internal Revenue Service comes to us a couple years ago and misleads us and tells us no targeting is occurring. Then it said it was a few rogue agents in Cincinnati. Then it said it was also on progressives. All of those things have been proven untrue.”
Ryan called Koskinen’s explanation for the loss of the emails “unbelievable.”
“You are the Internal Revenue Service,” he said. “You can reach into the lives of hard-working taxpayers and with a phone call, an e-mail or a letter you can turn their lives upside down. You ask taxpayers to hand onto seven years of their personal tax information in case they are ever audited and you can’t keep six months worth of employee e-mails? And now that we are seeing this investigation, you don’t have the e-mails, hard drives crashed. You learned about this months ago. You just told us, and we had to ask you on Monday.”
This is not being forthcoming, he said.
“This is being misleading again,” Ryan said. “This is a pattern of abuse, a pattern of behavior that is not giving us any confidence that this agency is being impartial. I don’t believe you. This is incredible.” (WFB)
Gee, I guess they should have used a reel-to-reel audio tape under the desk. Then the Democrats would actually care. 🙂
One of the seven people, including Lois Lerner who lost emails from the period of Tea Party targeting by the IRS, served as chief of staff to former IRS head Steven Miller. She also made 35 visits to the White House.
The funny thing about emails is that they are never orphans. When you send one, there’s always a recipient who has his or her own copy. The “lost” Lois Lerner emails had recipients. How about subpoenas to all of them during the Tea Party targeting period? That should help find what we need to know — or maybe not.
It seems six more IRS officials have lost critical emails from that period, a seeming statistical impossibility that shouts out a conspiracy to obstruct justice, and more violations of the Federal Records Act, which requires paper copies of these emails to be printed and stored just in case of computer problems.
One of those officials who received Lerner emails and also lost them was Nikole Flax, chief of staff to former IRS Commissioner Steven Miller. Miller, who was fired in the wake of the targeting scandal, visited the White House more than most Cabinet members.
Flax, as the Daily Caller reports, “made 31 visits to the White House between July 12, 2010, and May 8, 2013, according to White House visitor logs.”
While not quite as numerous as another former IRS Commissioner, Douglas Shulman, who made some 118 visits — including one he testified was for the Easter egg roll on the White House lawn — Flax’s visits dovetail nicely with key points in the IRS scandal.
The visits started just as the IRS’ targeting of the Tea Party began; the last occurred two days before the scandal broke in May 2013. On the day of her last visit, according to the Daily Caller, Flax got an email from Lerner seeking advice on a plan to coordinate with the Justice Department to criminally prosecute conservative activists.
Responding to this email, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Judicial Watch, Flax gave the green light to Lerner’s plan to coordinate criminal prosecutions with DOJ, a suggestion that had been made by Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.
We also know that Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings’ staff was in contact with Lerner about the conservative group True the Vote.
Whitehouse and Cummings might be two of the “Democratic offices” referred to in a statement from the House Ways and Means Committee when it derided IRS’ claims that “it cannot produce emails written only to or from Lerner and outside agencies or groups, such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or Democrat offices.” (IBD)