Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said Wednesday that he believes the IRS was never going to tell Congress about the lost Lois Lerner emails until they were forced to admit it in light of an email that was uncovered by Judicial Watch in a Freedom of Information Act request.
"I think you were never going to tell us," Jordan said to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen at a subcommittee hearing he chaired Wednesday.
Jordan recounted that in April, Judicial Watch learned that the IRS and the Justice Department were meeting to discuss the idea of bringing action against various Tea Party groups for undertaking political activities that aren't allowed by tax exempt groups.
That prompted the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to ask the Justice Department about it. In May, a Justice Department official told the committee that the two agencies were meeting as far back as 2010.
"So we said, you know what, we better subpoena documents from the Justice Department," Jordan said. "And we said to the Justice Department, we want any communications with Lois Lerner that you've had."
Jordan said that in response, Justice gave the committee an email between Lerner and the Justice Department that the committee didn't have. That prompted the committee to ask the IRS why it had not received the email as part of its prior request to the IRS.
"And then, suddenly, four days later, you tell the Finance Committee, the Congress, more importantly the American people, you know what, we lost Lois Lerner emails," Jordan said to Koskinen.
"My theory is this, Mr. Koskinen, you guys weren't ever gonna tell us until we caught you. And we caught you because Judicial Watch did a FOIA request."
Koskinen rejected Jordan's theory, but did so by saying the IRS lost emails from Lerner in a report that it had been preparing for several months.
"When you find any direct evidence to support that assertion, I'd be happy to see it," Koskinen said to Jordan. "If you think that this organization in four days could produce that report, you don't understand how large organizations function."
But Jordan said the IRS could have easily decided to insert the information about the lost emails in the broader report it was preparing at the last minute.
"Before you make that kind of charge and claim, you ought to have better evidence than a single email dated June 9," Koskinen said. But Jordan said the timelines in the investigation leave him wondering.
"In light of everything we've heard from the IRS, when you start looking at the timeline, it looks pretty suspect," he said. "And all I'm saying is, I'm not sure they were gonna tell us."