House Republicans on Monday put more pressure on the IRS to explain how they could have lost more than two years of emails to and from Lois Lerner and people outside the agency.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) issued a subpoena to hear IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testify next Monday about the lost emails.
The IRS said Friday that it lost more than two years of emails between Lerner, the former director of tax exempt organizations, and people outside the IRS. Republicans had asked for those emails to see if she was coordinating with others to apply extra scrutiny to conservative-leaning groups, and Issa said Monday he was fed up with “broken commitments” from the IRS to help Congress investigate the targeting scandal.
“I will not tolerate your continued obstruction and game-playing in response to the Committee’s investigation of the IRS targeting,” Issa wrote. “For too long, the IRS has promised to produce requested – and, later, subpoenaed – documents, only to respond later with excuses and inaction. Despite your empty promises and broken commitments to cooperation, the IRS still insists on flouting Constitutional congressional oversight.”
Also Monday, House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) said his staff has interviewed information technology people at the IRS, and are taking other steps to figure out about the how the agency could have lost emails to and from Lois Lerner.
“We are simply not going to accept the IRS claim that these documents are not recoverable,” said Camp and oversight subcommittee chairman Charles Boustany (R-La.). “We will demand the President live up to his promise to work ‘hand in hand’ with Congress to get the facts.
“He can do so by quickly ordering his White House and key agencies to immediately conduct an exhaustive search for all Lois Lerner emails. There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by an independent special investigator.”
In addition to interviewing IT staff, the committee has asked the White House, the Departments of Justice and Treasury, and other agencies for any emails involving Lerner that they might have. In addition, the committee will take testimony next week from Koskien about the incident.
The IRS appears to have violated internal IRS policy by not printing out all of Lerner’s emails, and may have also violated the law by failing to set up protections against the loss of these emails.
Camp and Boustany also sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Monday to ask for his assistance in finding the emails, and quoted Obama, who said in May he wants to “get this thing fixed.”
“In order to ensure accountability and ‘get this thing fixed,’ please provide… all communications between Lois Lerner and any persons within the Executive Office of the President (EOP) for the period between January 1, 2009 and May 1, 2011,” the letter says. “Also, please indicate in writing when the EOP was informed, and by whom, that the IRS had lost critical Lerner documents.”