Does the IRS still have backups of Lois Lerner’s emails?


The House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform holds that out as a possibility in their post, “New Testimony: IRS May Still Have Missing Lois Lerner E-mails Backed Up.”

The committee blog notes that an IRS official’s new testimony that the backups may exist is in contradiction to a previous report that they didn’t exist:

During a transcribed interview with congressional investigators on Thursday, July 17, IRS Deputy Associate Chief Counsel Thomas Kane, who supervises the IRS’s targeting scandal document production to Congress, testified that new developments now make him uncertain whether e-mail back-up tapes containing lost e-mails from key IRS targeting official Lois Lerner exist or not. The new testimony is at odds with the June 13, 2014, memo sent to Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) by the IRS which reported that the IRS, “Confirmed that back-up tapes from 2011 no longer exist because they have been recycled.” Kane had reviewed the June 13 memo but noted his current uncertainty with investigators.

Here’s what Jeffrey Meyer of Newsbusters focuses on:

On Monday, IRS deputy associate chief council Thomas Kane told the House Oversight Committee that he is unsure whether or not backup tapes of the lost Lois Lerner emails exist.

Despite the potential bombshell surrounding the investigation into the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups, all three network evening news shows, ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer, CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley and the NBC Nightly News, ignored the revelations on Monday, July 21.

Politico reports:

“I don’t know if there is a backup tape with information on it or there isn’t,” he told investigators Thursday, according to a partial transcript released by Oversight Republicans on Monday. The IRS official suggested new information has come to light since the IRS revealed in a June 13 letter to Congress that two year’s worth of Lerner’s emails were lost in a 2011 computer crash.

Lerner was the head of the tax exempt division that singled out conservative groups for additional scrutiny and has since become a lightning rod for Republicans probing the matter.

The IRS had said no copies of Lerner’s correspondence were available because the IRS at the time only backed up emails for six months on tapes — then recycled the tapes for reuse. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen also testified to the matter before lawmakers. Kane suggested that might not be the case.

Here’s what committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa had to say in response:

“I’m struck by the fact that the IRS attempted to keep a key witness like Mr. Kane away from investigators and only agreed to his appearance after I issued a subpoena for his testimony. Finding out that IRS Commissioner Koskinen jumped the gun in reporting to Congress that the IRS ‘confirmed’ all back-up tapes had been destroyed makes me even more suspicious of why he waited months to inform Congress about lost Lois Lerner e-mails. Commissioner Koskinen has repeatedly blamed the reporting delay on an effort to be sure what he said was correct, we now know that wasn’t the case.”

It would appear from all of the above that the focus of the new information should be on the fact that the IRS has previously misled Congress by saying all the emails had been destroyed in the supposed hard drive crash. The new information from Kane would hold out the possibility that backups might still exist. I don’t hold up much hope for that, but this whole chapter in the saga seems to prove the old adage that the cover-up is always worse than the actual scandal.

Jeff Quinton

Jeff Quinton

Jeff Quinton is an award-winning blogger who has been aggregating and blogging since 1998. He has worked as a reporter, in government, and as a communications professional in Columbia, SC and Washington, DC.

Quinton is a native South Carolinian who has lived in Baltimore since 2006. He is a recent convert to the Catholic Church and is active in the Knights of Columbus. He has been involved in the pro-life movement nationally and locally since 2010.

Quinton is a veteran who served as an intelligence analyst in the Army National Guard. He is also an Eagle Scout.
Jeff Quinton