House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Friday laid into IRS Commissioner John Koskinen for failing to keep Congress informed about the lost Lois Lerner emails, and was forced to conclude that he cannot believe Koskinen’s testimony.
“This is unbelievable,” Ryan began. “I am sitting here listening to this testimony… I just, I don’t believe it. That’s your problem, nobody believes you.”
Koskinen said the IRS learned in February that some of Lerner’s emails may have been missing, but didn’t tell Congress about it until weeks later as it worked to figure out what happened. In the end, the IRS determined that the emails were unrecoverable.
But Ryan and many other Republicans rejected that story, and said the IRS purposefully kept Congress in the dark about the status of the emails.
“You bury in a 27-page letter to the Senate asking for them to conclude the investigation that you’ve lost Lois Lerner’s emails during the time in question because of a hard drive crash,” Ryan said.
“Monday our investigators ask your agency whether any other hard drives crashed, and we learn that six other hard drives of the people we’re investigating. You didn’t tell us that.”
“We told you Monday,” Koskinen replied.
“On Monday… because we asked you,” said Ryan, who then said the IRS is failing to meet its own standards that it enforces against regular taxpayers.
“You are the Internal Revenue Service. You can reach into the lives of hardworking taxpayers, and with a phone call, an email or a letter, you can turn their lives upside down,” Ryan said. “You ask taxpayers to hang onto seven years of their personal tax information in case they’re ever audited, and you can’t keep six months of employees emails?”
“If we are investigating criminal wrongdoing, targeting of people based on their political beliefs, and the emails in question are lost because of a hard drive crash that is apparently unrecoverable… and you don’t tell us about it until we ask you about it, that is not being forthcoming,” he said.