U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Emmett G. Sullivan quickly granted a motion filed earlier today by attorneys for Judicial Watch seeking a courtroom status conference “as soon as possible to discuss the IRS's failure to fulfill its duties to this court under the law, as well as other ramifications of this lawsuit.”
In its motion, the non-profit watchdog noted that the IRS publicly acknowledged loss of Lerner emails to and from individuals outside of the agency early in February 2014.
Then on Feb. 26, the tax agency provided its first production of documents in response to a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed in October 2013.
No mention was made in that production of the lost Lerner emails, even though the original Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit filed in May 2013 specifically sought them.
Judicial Watch further noted that "although IRS had knowledge of the missing Lois Lerner emails and of the other IRS officials, it materially omitted any mention of the missing records" in an April 30 status update on its document production.
An IRS spokesman declined to comment on Sullivan's ruling or the Judicial Watch motion without first reviewing the filings.
The IRS is already under severe fire from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the House Committee on Ways and Means for failing to disclose the lost emails in a timely fashion.
The July 10 conference could add a similar failure to inform a federal judge and the plaintiff in an FOIA lawsuit to the legal and public relations troubles facing the IRS.
The tax agency could also face court sanctions or even criminal proceedings if Sullivan is not satisfied with the government's explanation.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said “the IRS is clearly in full cover-up mode. It is well past time for the Obama administration to answer to a federal court about its cover-up and destruction of records.”
Editor's note: Judicial Watch is representing the Washington Examiner in the newspaper's federal lawsuit seeking access to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau records under FOIA.Mark Tapscott is executive editor of the Washington Examiner.