During the last two days, investigators and House members have been deluged with contradictory statements during their ongoing probe of the IRS targeting scandal, including the IRS chief contradicting himself. And they all revolve around former IRS executive Lois Lerner’s “lost” emails.
Computer experts working within the Internal Revenue Service told congressional investigators Tuesday that Lerner’s damaged hard drive was merely scratched, and that most of the information contained on it could be retrieved.
They further stated that IRS management declined their recommendation to bring in outside help to retrieve the data, according to the Washington Examiner.
Their testimony directly contradicts senior IRS officials’ testimony that her hard drive was damaged beyond repair, making her emails — which would more-than-likely shed light on the IRS targeting scandal — irretrievable.
This new revelation makes it more evident that the IRS is playing games with House Republicans on this issue.
“It is unbelievable that we cannot get a simple, straight answer from the IRS about this hard drive,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., said in a statement Tuesday, according to the Examiner. “The committee was told no data was recoverable and the physical drive was recycled and potentially shredded. To now learn that the hard drive was only scratched, yet the IRS refused to utilize outside experts to recover the data, raises more questions about potential criminal wrong doing at the IRS.”
The Examiner also reported:
In addition, the committee says it has come across evidence that, at least for some period of time, Lerner’s computer was listed as “recovered” in an internal IRS IT tracking document. The committee says IRS experts were not able to say whether “recovered” meant that the hard drive had actually been saved or whether it had met some other fate. In any event, committee aides say they have consulted with “former federal law enforcement and Department of Defense forensic experts” about the matter, and their conclusion is that the majority of information on the drive could have been saved.
Far from discouraging Republicans, this new information has strengthened their resolve.
“It is these constant delays and late revelations that have forced this investigation to go on so long,” Camp said. “If the IRS would just come clean and tell Congress and the American people what really happened, we could put an end to this. Our investigators will not stop until we find the full truth.”
But that was then; this is now.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified Wednesday that the IRS has now located IRS “backup tapes” covering the period of Lerner’s requested emails — the same tapes he previously testified had been overwritten.
The commissioner testified before a House Oversight subcommittee that he doesn’t know “how they found them” or “whether there’s anything on them or not,” according to Fox News.
He further stated that that the tapes were discovered by an Inspector General investigator and it’s so far unknown whether any of Lerner’s emails are included on them.
Earlier this week, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the senior Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, called for an end to the IRS investigation, according to a separate Washington Examiner report.
“This is unseemly, it’s embarrassing, this is not a proper way to run an investigation,” Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said, according to Fox.