The U.S. Justice Department is conducting an investigation into the disappearance of emails from a former senior IRS official that could provide insight into accusations the agency intentionally targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

According to testimony prepared by Deputy Attorney General James Cole, which was reviewed by the Wall Street Journal, the Justice Department is ”investigating the circumstances of the lost emails from [former IRS official Lois Lerner's] computer.”

Photo Credit: AP

The U.S. Justice Department is conducting an investigation into the disappearance of emails from a former senior IRS official. (Photo Credit: AP)

Cole is scheduled to appear Thursday before a congressional committee.

Officials have previously claimed that Lerner’s emails were lost after her computer suffered a hard drive crash in 2011 when she headed the IRS division that dealt with tax-exempt organizations. When House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) subpoenaed the damaged drive, IRS officials said it had been “thrown away.”

Several IT officials had previously weighed in, contending emails are not usually lost following a hard drive crash.

Lerner has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing on her part, but has declined to answer questions under oath, citing her Fifth Amendment right.

Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter