Here’s what the Washington Examiner reported today:
Up to 30,000 missing emails sent by former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner have been recovered by the IRS inspector general, five months after they were deemed lost forever.
The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) informed congressional staffers from several committees on Friday that the emails were found among hundreds of “disaster recovery tapes” that were used to back up the IRS email system.
Does anyone else find it funny that suddenly – shortly after midterm elections – these emails have been recovered?
Is this timing a coincidence? I doubt it.
Remember, back in June, the IRS told us that they could not locate most of Lois Lerner’s emails. Lerner is a key figure in the Tea Party targeting scandal. The agency said that a computer crash in 2011 caused an untold number of emails to be wiped out.
Then the Watchdog organization Judicial Watch filed a FOIA request for the documents, and naturally, the IRS refused to provide them. It was only after the group filed a lawsuit that they were able to obtain the documents – which were quite damning:
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton explained the implications of the new information:
“These new documents show that officials in the IRS headquarters were responsible for the illegal delays of Tea Party applications. It is disturbing to see Lois Lerner mislead the IRS’ internal investigators about her office’s Tea Party targeting. These documents also confirm the unprecedented pressure from congressional Democrats to go after President Obama’s political opponents. The IRS scandal has now ensnared Congress.”
The IRS claimed to have gone to great lengths to try to recover data from Lerner’s computer in 2011:
In emails provided by the IRS, technicians said they sent the computer to a forensic lab run by the agency’s criminal investigations unit. But to no avail.
The IRS was able to generate 24,000 Lerner emails from the 2009 to 2011 because Lerner had copied in other IRS employees. The agency said it pieced together the emails from the computers of 82 other IRS employees.
But an untold number are gone. Camp’s office said the missing emails are mainly ones to and from people outside the IRS, “such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or Democrat offices.”
Anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist called the episode “the worst attempt to blame technology in service of a cover-up since the infamous 18-minute gap” in former President Richard Nixon’s Watergate tapes.
In July, two US District Court judges ordered the IRS to start coughing up some answers. One judge gave IRS officials an August 10 deadline to provide a declaration – signed by an IRS official, under oath – explaining exactly how the agency managed to “lose” two years’ worth of Lerner’s emails. Another judge gave the IRS until July 18 to find out what happened to the crashed hard drive responsible for erasing two years worth of Lerner’s emails. He also wanted to know if the hard drive is traceable through a serial number. If the information was truly gone, that judge said he wanted an affidavit written under penalty of perjury by an IRS IT professional with “firsthand knowledge” of the situation.
Then, surprise! In August, Department of Justice attorneys for the IRS admitted that Lois Lerner’s emails DO exist on a backup server, but said they would be hard to find.
Department of Justice attorneys for the Internal Revenue Service told Judicial Watch on Friday that Lois Lerner’s emails, indeed all government computer records, are backed up by the federal government in case of a government-wide catastrophe. The Obama administration attorneys said that this back-up system would be too onerous to search.
The DOJ attorneys also acknowledged that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) is investigating this back-up system.
And now, here’s what a Congressional aide told the Washington Examiner:
“They just said it took them several weeks and some forensic effort to get these emails off these tapes.”
TIGTA said it will take a few weeks to sort through the emails. Private taxpayer information will need to be redacted before the emails are presented to Congress.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said late Friday that his committee is ready to examine those emails, and said he was hopeful they might shed light on how Lerner operated:
“Though it is unclear whether TIGTA has found all of the missing Lois Lerner emails, there may be significant information in this discovery,” he said. “The Oversight Committee will be looking for information about her mindset and who she was communicating with outside the IRS during a critical period of time when the IRS was targeting conservative groups.”
So much for a “phony” scandal. Looks like this is about to become more real than ever.
Lily Dane is a staff writer for The Daily Sheeple, where this first appeared. Her goal is to help people to “Wake the Flock Up!”