Watchdog group Judicial Watch reports that the Internal Revenue Service has finally complied with Judge Emmet Sullivan’s June 4 order requiring the agency to provide answers on the status of the Lois Lerner emails the IRS had previously declared lost. Judicial Watch ahd raised questions about the IRS’s handling of the missing emails issue in a court filing on June 2, 2015.
The organization’s president, Tom Fitton, made the following statement:
Our review of the seven-page filing shows that the IRS remains intent on stonewalling Judicial Watch and Judge Sullivan. Indeed, contrary to false representations to the court and Congress that the emails were lost and unrecoverable, the IRS finally admits that it has as many as 6,400 new Lois Lerner emails but won’t promise to turn them over to Judicial Watch. Even though the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration already identified and removed emails that are duplicates, the IRS is in ‘the process of conducting further manual deduplication of the 6,400’ emails, rather than reviewing them in response to Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act requests that are more than two years old now. Our legal team will continue pursuing all necessary and available legal options to hold the IRS accountable for its flagrant abuse of power.”
The “lost” Lois Lerner emails are at issue Judicial Watch’s October 2013 lawsuit seeking documents about the Obama IRS Tea Party targeting scandal. Judicial Watch’s litigation forced the IRS first to admit that Lerner’s emails were supposedly missing and, then, that the emails were on IRS back-up systems. Lois Lerner is the former head of the Exempt Organizations branch of the IRS, and was one of the top officials responsible for the IRS targeting of President Obama’s political opponents.
In November 2014, the IRS told the court it had failed to search any of the IRS standard computer systems for the “missing” emails of Lois Lerner and other IRS officials.
On February 26, 2015, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) officials testified to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that it had received 744 backup tapes containing emails sent and received by Lerner. This testimony showed that the IRS had falsely represented to both Congress, Judge Sullivan, and Judicial Watch that Lerner’s emails were irretrievably lost.