Could the IRS have those missing Lois Lerner emails after all?
New testimony from a key Internal Revenue Service official indicates the IRS may not have lost two years of emails sent by former top IRS official Lois Lerner after all.
That is what the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee suggested Monday morning in a newly released transcript of a recent closed-door interview with IRS Deputy Associate Chief Counsel Thomas Kane.
Kane is responsible for producing documents requested by Congress that are related to a a probe into the IRS past practice of targeting conservative groups.
Kane met with House investigators after Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., issued a subpoena.
Kane told Oversight staffers last week that the backup tapes that held two years of lost Lerner emails may actually still exist.
If true, it would contradict claims made by IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, who told Congress last month Lerner's emails to outside agencies sent between 2009 and 2011 were lost when Lerner's hard drive crashed and was destroyed and back up tapes were overwritten after six months.
At the time the emails were lost, Lerner was head of the IRS tax exempt division and House investigators believe she holds the key to establishing whether higher ranking administration officials were involved in the targeting.
Here is is the key part of the transcript between Kane and House Oversight investigators:
Kane: There is an issue as to whether or not there is a — that all of the backup recovery tapes were destroyed on the 6-month retention schedule.
Investigator: So some of those backup tapes may still exist?
Kane: I don't know whether they are or they aren't, but it's an issue that's being looked at.
The transcript also revealed that, according to Kane, additional IRS officials related to the targeting of conservative groups suffered computer crashes that destroyed emails that investigators are seeking.
Among those who lost data are Justin Low, a technical advisor and tax law specialist for the agency’s tax exempt division, which oversees decisions to grant tax exempt status.
Other employees who lost data were David Fish, an advisor to Lerner who also develops guidance for tax exempt groups and served as acting director of Rulings and Agreements and Andy Megosh, a manager in the IRS exempt organizations division.
Koskinen had angered lawmakers when it was revealed he waited months to tell them the emails were lost.
“Commissioner Koskinen has repeatedly blamed the reporting delay on an effort to be sure what he said was correct, we now now that wasn’t the case,” Issa said.