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There May Be Hope That Lois Lerner's Lost Emails Exist Somewhere Else

"These 760 exchange server tapes could be a potential source..."

FILE - In this May 22, 2013, file photo, then-IRS official Lois Lerner is sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the House Oversight Committee hearing to investigate the extra scrutiny IRS gave to tea party and other conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status. The House is preparing to vote May 7, on holding Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify at a pair of committee hearings about her role in the agency's tea party controversy. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File) AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File

House Republicans on the Oversight and Government Affairs Committee believe they may have found where Lois Lerner's "lost" emails are, and are asking the IRS for more details about whether they have searched everywhere for those records.

Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) wrote to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen on Friday and said congressional staff spoke to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration on Thursday.

In this May 22, 2013, file photo, then-IRS official Lois Lerner is sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the House Oversight Committee hearing to investigate the extra scrutiny IRS gave to tea party and other conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status. The House is preparing to vote May 7, on holding Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify at a pair of committee hearings about her role in the agency's tea party controversy. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File) Lois Lerner's lost emails might still exist in hundreds of backup servers that have not yet been searched. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

In that phone call, TIGTA said hundreds of computer servers have not yet been searched for the missing emails, despite assurances from Koskinen and others that the IRS has looked everywhere.

"The committee has recently learned that Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has identified 760 IRS exchange server drives from the relevant period that currently exist and could contain Ms. Lerner's emails," Jordan wrote.

"According to TIGTA, the IRS did not search these sources for Ms. Lerner's emails during its process of producing documents to Congress because the IRS was not aware that the exchange servers even existed," he added. "According to TIGTA, the IRS was under the mistaken belief that the exchange servers had been destroy din 2012 until TIGTA's review of IRS records indicated that the servers had not been destroyed due to budgetary constraints."

"These 760 exchange server tapes could be a potential source for the destroyed emails sent or received by Ms. Lerner," Jordan wrote.

Jordan will hold a hearing on September 17 to ask Koskinen about this new information, and Koskinen has already agreed to appear. Jordan said Koskinen's testimony is critical because Koskinen has said before that he has "confirmed that back-up tapes from 2011 no longer exist because they have been recycled."

Jordan also said information revealed over the last few weeks shows the need for a followup conversation with Koskinen. For example, he noted that IRS attorney Thomas Kane has since testified that it's not clear whether all backup servers were searched.

The letter said government watchdog group Judicial Watch has also said it was told by an IRS lawyer that Lerner's emails still exist, and that the IRS has said "this back-up system would be too onerous to search."

Jordan's letter said he wants Koskinen to explain the precise status of IRS backup servers in light of the new information from TIGTA, and other details about how the IRS backs up and searches for data.

Lerner's emails are seen as a critical piece of the puzzle by Republicans investigating the IRS targeting scandal. Lerner was the director of tax-exempt organizations at the IRS, the division that she later admitted applied extra scrutiny to conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

But earlier this year, the IRS said more than two years' worth of emails from Lerner went missing, along with the emails of several others Republicans were investigating.

Read Jordan's letter here:

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