Wednesday, at a House Oversight subcommittee hearing he chaired, Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) tried to elicit from IRS Commissioner John Koskinen the answer to why it took him until June 13, 2014 to reveal to Congress that the IRS had lost a two years worth of Lois Lerner’s emails.
Via The Blaze:
Jordan recounted that in April, Judicial Watch learned that the IRS and the Justice Department were meeting to discuss the idea of bringing action against various Tea Party groups for undertaking political activities that aren’t allowed by tax exempt groups.
That prompted the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to ask the Justice Department about it. In May, a Justice Department official told the committee that the two agencies were meeting as far back as 2010.
“So we said, you know what, we better subpoena documents from the Justice Department,” Jordan said. “And we said to the Justice Department, we want any communications with Lois Lerner that you’ve had.”
Jordan said that in response, Justice gave the committee an email between Lerner and the Justice Department that the committee didn’t have. That prompted the committee to ask the IRS why it had not received the email as part of its prior request to the IRS.
“And then, suddenly, four days later, you tell the Finance Committee, the Congress, more importantly the American people, you know what, we lost Lois Lerner emails,” Jordan said to Koskinen.
“My theory is this, Mr. Koskinen, you guys weren’t ever gonna tell us until we caught you,” Jordan concluded. “And we caught you because Judicial Watch did a FOIA request.”
Congressman Trey Gowdy’s grilling of Koskinen was so brutal it was hard not to feel sorry for the 74 year old Commish when it was over.
At issue was Koskinen’s testimony before the committee in June in which he said he had “confirmed” that backup tapes of former IRS official Lois Lerner’s email had been recycled, making it impossible to recover emails the committee is seeking.
Lerner’s missing emails are a key part of the committee investigation that the IRS had targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status for extra scrutiny.
On Monday, the panel released testimony from another IRS employee who indicated it is possible some information from Lerner’s computer might be retrievable from backup tapes after all.
The discrepancy enraged Gowdy.
Gowdy toyed with Koskinen in almost sadistically …
Gowdy: “What does the word ‘confirmed’ mean to you?”
Koskinen: “It means that somebody went back and looked, and that all backup tapes had been recycled.”
Gowdy: “Are you still ‘confirmed’ that no backup tapes exist?”
Koskinen: “At this point I have no basis for not being ‘confirmed’. I do understand that the IG [Inspector General] were looking at tapes…”
In case you’re wondering what prompted Gowdy to snap, “I really could not believe the colloquy that you had with one of our colleagues about the morale at the IRS. It takes a lot to stun me, but that stunned me.”
T. Becket Adams at the Washington Examiner explains:
Koskinen’s remarks were prompted by Chicago machine politician Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., who asked during a House subcommittee hearing on Wednesday whether IRS workers have been able to deal with the supposed strain being put on them by investigators.
“When they … are subject to depositions and recorded interviews, it sends — these are all career people — it has a deleterious effect on morale because they thought they were actually doing what they were asked to do,” Koskinen said.
The IRS commissioner lamented the fact that agency officials have had to take time out of their terribly busy days to comply with numerous requests for emails and other recorded correspondences. In fact, some agents are even worried that — wait for this — they may be asked to testify.
“So for everybody else who’s working on this project, they’re now looking over their shoulder worrying about, ‘Am I going to get called up next?’ ” he said.
Unfortunately for the commissioner, there was at least one lawmaker present at the hearing who wasn’t swayed by news that the investigation into the targeting scandal has inconvenienced some IRS workers.
“Here’s a piece of advice I would give. If the folks like Lois Lerner and others would have spent 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 less,” Gowdy added scathingly.
You can watch the entire hearing in two parts, here.