‘We have a problem with you, and you have a problem maintaining your credibility’: House Republicans Grill IRS Commissioner as they Subpoena White House LawyerPosted: June 23, 2014
For Mail Online, David Martosko reports: Republicans dropped a hammer on IRS Commissioner John Koskinen during a testy hearing covering the disappearance of emails tied to the agency’s tea party targeting scandal.
“You worked to cover up the fact they were missing and only came forward to fess up on a Friday afternoon after you had been caught red-handed.”
The emails, covering the period January 2009 to April 2011, belonged to embattled former official Lois Lerner and could shed light on whether an expansive scheme to single out conservative groups for special scrutiny was guided by members of Congress or administration officials outside the IRS.
‘The committee requested all of Lois Lerner’s emails over a year ago,’ said House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa. ‘And we subpoenaed the emails in August 2013 and again in February 2014. … You worked to cover up the fact they were missing and only came forward to fess up on a Friday afternoon after you had been caught red-handed.’
‘You personally did not cause the targeting,’ he told Koskinen, referring to the tea party scandal. ‘You personally did not destroy the emails. But by your actions and your deception, you now own this scandal.’
‘We have a problem with you,’ Issa sniped, ‘and you have a problem maintaining your credibility.’
Monday’s unusual evening hearing came as the result of a subpoena, and will continue Tuesday morning with a command performance from another Obama administration official.
Issa subpoenaed White House lawyer Jennifer O’Connor on Monday afternoon. He had invited her on Thursday to testify during the Tuesday session, but on Monday afternoon White House Counsel W. Neil Egglestonwrote Issa to say his underling would not appear.
Before O’Connor’s promotion to the White House Counsel’s office, she was counsel to then-Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel.
Just ten days ago the IRS informed congressional investigators that a hard drive crash had destroyed 28 months of emails to and from Lerner, who led the IRS’s office in charge of vetting and policing tax-exempt nonprofit groups.
In an opening statement Monday night, Koskinen argued that ‘it is not unusual for computers anywhere to fail, especially at the IRS in light of the aged equipment IRS employees often have to use in light of the continual cuts in its budget these past four years.’
‘Since Jan. 1 of this year, for example,’ he claimed, ‘over 2,000 employees have suffered hard drive crashes.’
Koskinen referred several times on Monday to a lack of budget resources within the IRS, and raised the issue when asked why the agency didn’t do a better job keeping a backup of Lerner’s emails.
An outraged Issa insisted that Americans should be able to know ‘they’re being honestly treated by your employees, especially somebody at such a high level. Isn’t that in fact a priority that should have allowed for full retention?’
‘If we had the right resources, there would be a lot of priorities,’ Koskinen shot back.
‘So the American people should believe that if they don’t have the resources to pay their taxes, they shouldn’t pay their taxes’ Issa jabbed, ‘because if the IRS doesn’t have the resources, it won’t keep records?’
‘That’s pretty much what you’re telling us here tonight, is that resources are a question of whether or not you retain key documents.’
When Tennessee Republican Rep Scott DesJarlais asked Koskinen how much money it would take to replace the IRS’s computer systems in order to prevent another major data loss, he answered that it would cost between $10 and $30 million…(read more)
- IRS lost Lois Lerner’s emails in tea party probe (cbsnews.com)
- Lois Lerner’s Hard Drive Subpoenaed (cnsnews.com)
- Sources: Lerner’s emails likely gone forever (politico.com)
- Issa Statement on Lois Lerner’s Deleted IRS Emails (oversight.house.gov)
- Dang! The IRS says Lois Lerner’s emails done got wiped out in one of them there computer crashes (humanevents.com)
- Darrell Issa Subpoenas Lois Lerner’s Hard Drive (dailycaller.com)
- IRS says it lost key Lerner emails – Agency blames 2011 hard drive crash for data loss (deadlinelive.info)
- IRS Was Required By Law to Print Out Lois Lerner’s Emails (tomfernandez28.com)
- IRS says it’s unable to recover subpoenaed Lerner e-mails in computer crash (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)