After revealing in a Friday news dump that it “lost” former top IRS official Lois Lerner’s emails, the IRS now says that it has “lost” emails from at least six more IRS officials.
What’s next, not being able to produce any more emails related to the targeting?
Unbelievable doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Is the IRS literally dumping documents out the back door?
How could an agency that relies almost exclusively on the American people keeping good records to operate suddenly be at a loss for keeping records? But that’s not the half of it. It’s not that the IRS can’t keep records; it’s that it somehow just can’t seem to find records related to the targeting of conservatives that have been requested/subpoenaed by Congress.
The IRS claims that it stores voluminous amounts of email, yet just the important ones from what may be the largest IRS scandal in history seem to disappear. In a letter last week to Congress, the IRS proclaimed:
The IRS email system runs on Microsoft Outlook. Each of the Outlook email servers are located at one of three IRS data centers. Approximately 170 terabytes of email (178,000,000 megabytes, representing literally hundreds of millions of emails) are currently stored on those servers. For disaster recovery purposes, the IRS does a daily back-up of its email servers. The daily back-up provides a snapshot of the contents of all email boxes as of the date and time of the backup.
Yet, somehow out of “170 terabits of email” stored on its servers, the IRS has managed to lose Lois Lerner’s emails, but not all her emails, just the important ones. We’re expected to believe that a computer crash accounts for all of this. Yet with all of the daily backups for “disaster recovery,” they somehow over looked Lerner’s crashed computer, her supposed requests for recovering data, and the expert technicians who supposedly tried to get it back? If the IRS kept all that email data (as they claim) for six months (as they claim), then why wasn’t it recovered when her computer mysteriously crashed?
Now the IRS somehow can’t find emails to and from Lerner in the two-year period at the heart of the IRS targeting scandal and only emails during that period that went outside the IRS, like to say the Federal Election Commission (which we know she likes to email), the DOJ and the FBI (which we also know she likes to email and turn over confidential taxpayer information to), and her personal email account (which she’s also found of doing).
Find that hard to believe? Well so does anyone who’s been paying close attention to this case. Every explanation, every excuse, from the Obama Administration, congressional Democrats, and the IRS is full of gaping holes, policies violations, and leaps of faith.
Yet somehow after all of that, the IRS is going right back to the “dog ate my homework” trough, claiming that it can’t produce emails from six other IRS officials.
Can’t or won’t?
You see, if any of these emails produced a scintilla of evidence that the accusations made in the IRS targeting scandal are false or backed up the Democrats tried and trite false accusations that it was just boneheaded decisions of low-level employees, you had better believe they would turn up. The White House, the FEC, and other federal agencies would be coughing up their records of those emails in a millisecond.
But they aren’t. They’re stonewalling. They’re looking the other direction, hoping the media will do the same.
The most outrageous part about the IRS’s new claims is that they are being made now, more than a year after the documents were requested and later subpoenaed.
If their story, as crazy as it is, could possible be believed, it would only be believable if they immediately informed Congress last year, explained the computer issues up front and promised to request the missing emails from all federal agencies. But they didn’t. The Obama Administration’s IRS waited well over a year to inform Congress.
Yet, in its letter to Congress last week, the IRS admitted: “The electronic data collection for Ms. Lerner’s custodial email was completed on May 22, 2013.”
It finished collecting her email just days after the scandal broke, yet didn’t bother to inform Congress that a huge (and critically important) chunk of that email was missing.
The Obama Administration and the IRS continue to treat this entire scandal and the ensuing investigation as a joke. Need more proof? The official White House response to the “lost” emails was, “You’ve never heard of a computer crashing before?”
That’s the kind of flippant response we can continue to expect from this Administration, as that snarky comment was from incoming Press Secretary Josh Earnest.
I’d be surprised if those emails, like the missing Watergate tapes, don’t end up being discovered at some point. It may take the ACLJ’s federal lawsuit on behalf of 41 targeted groups or continued pressure from Congress, but this investigation is far from over. The American people won’t let this kind of abuse go unchallenged.
Already, tens of thousands of Americans have signed our petition demanding a Special Counsel, an independent prosecutor to investigate the Obama Administration’s IRS. Add your name today.
Matthew Clark is Associate Counsel for Government Affairs and Media Advocacy with the ACLJ. A lifelong citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia, he lives with his wife and three boys in Northern Virginia. Follow Matthew Clark: @_MatthewClark.