Watergate déjà vu : The IRS ‘loses’ two years of emails

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President Nixon / Painting by Norman Rockwell
President Nixon / Painting by Norman Rockwell

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2014 — A claim by the IRS that it lost two years of email due to a computer crash has been met with disbelief in Congress. The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Darrell Issa asked, “Do they really expect the American people to believe that, after having withheld these emails for a year, they’re just now realizing the most critical time period is missing?”

The missing mail was sent by former IRS official Lois Lerner, who is at the center of an investigation into IRS targeting of conservative groups prior to the 2012 elections. Groups with names that suggested a link to the Tea Party or other conservative movements were subjected to especially strict scrutiny when they applied for 501(c)(4) status, and this interfered with their ability to participate in the elections.

Liberal groups were supposedly not subjected to the same level of scrutiny.


READ ALSO: IRS to get ‘license to kill’ groups that oppose Obama agenda



The IRS claims that the computer crash resulted in the loss of all email Lerner sent to and received from anyone outside the IRS between 2009 and 2011. Republican leaders in Congress were openly skeptical of the claim. Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee said, “There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the inspector general.”

Camp and Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, both expressed outrage that the IRS announced the loss of the email over a year into the investigation. Hatch called the announcement “an outrageous impediment to our investigation.”

The announcement is reminiscent of the claim by the Nixon Administration that over 18 minutes of taped Oval Office conversations were lost when President Nixon’s secretary, Rosemary Woods, accidentally erased them. The lost tape was from a June 20, 1972 conversation between Nixon and administration officials, and it was believed to be relevant to the Watergate investigation. Forensic experts were unable to retrieve anything of the erased tape, raising suspicion that Woods must have accidentally erased the same segment of tape more than once.

Lerner’s missing email would include messages to and from the White House, the Department of Justice, the Treasury, the FEC, and possibly “Democrat offices,” according to Camp.

The IRS released a statement on the email loss. “At the request of the Senate Finance Committee, the IRS today provided a summary of its production of email and materials to the Committee related to the processing and review of applications for tax-exempt status, as described in the May 2013 report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. … The IRS has made unprecedented efforts in connection with this effort, producing more than 750,000 pages of documents to help complete the investigations. In total, the IRS’s efforts to respond to Congress have involved more than 250 IRS employees working more than 120,000 hours at a direct cost of nearly $10 million.


READ ALSO: The crimes of Obama’s corrupt IRS: Contempt for America, Congress, law


“As we advised the committee three months ago, we have completed the production of materials related to the investigation, including 11,000 emails sent or received by Lois Lerner,” the statement continued. “… the IRS has been working on the identification and production of other Lois Lerner emails. The additional emails do not relate to the Finance Committee’s investigation. As part of this additional search, the IRS collected emails from 83 individuals. Congressional investigators have—or will soon have—a total of 67,000 emails sent or received by Ms. Lerner. In the course of collecting and producing Ms. Lerner’s additional emails, the IRS determined her hard drive crashed in 2011. At the time, Ms. Lerner asked IRS IT professionals to restore her hard drive, but they were unable to do so. Nonetheless, the IRS has or will produce 24,000 Lerner emails from this 2009-2011 time period, largely from the files of the other 82 individuals. The IRS’s production to Congress of the 67,000 Lerner emails is nearly complete.

“The IRS is committed to working with Congress. The IRS has remained focused on being thorough and responding as quickly as possible to the wide-ranging requests from Congress while taking steps to protect underlying taxpayer information.”

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  • rvauthor

    Do I have this straight? The IRS has diverted 250 employees and provided Rep. Issa’s committee with 750,000 pages of documents and the committee wants more?

    • jjc50

      They’ll have to come up with something better than that. Don’t fall for the scheme! The IRS is trying to gloss it over and discourage any investigation by saying they gave it their best shot. “more than 250 IRS employees working more than 120,000 hours” and the little “direct cost of nearly $10 million” they claim it has already cost us, they are clearly trying to cloud the issue by attempting to distract focus. Lost emails… what a lame excuse.

      • jb1111

        Only “SCHEME” here is Obama’s.
        IMPEACHMENT ……. NOW !!

        • jjc50

          Go for it, troll… See how far you get… and when you fail you’ll maybe realize you had no grounds to make such a ridiculous statement in the first place.

      • rvauthor

        The article tells us “Congressional investigators have—or will soon have—a total of 67,000 emails sent or received by Ms. Lerner.”

    • ben carver

      ‘The additional emails do not relate to the Finance Committee’s investigation.’

      The House Oversight committee asked for ALL of Lerner’s emails so this qualifier is irrelevant obfuscation (what else would you expect).

      ‘In total, the IRS’s efforts to respond to
      Congress have involved more than 250 IRS employees working more than
      120,000 hours at a direct cost of nearly $10 million.’

      Send the 10m bill to Lois Lerner since she plead the fifth instead of answering to the truth on the matter.

      ‘The IRS’s production to Congress of the 67,000 Lerner emails is nearly complete.’

      What part of ‘all Lois Lerner EMAILS’ does the IRS not understand?

    • jb1111

      YOU BET CHA !!!

    • Cristóbal Colón

      RV – it sounds as if you have NOTHING STRAIGHT – who cares how many pages they provided, they did NOT PROVIDE THE PAGES REQUESTED. Are you really that ignorant?

      • rvauthor

        It sounds as if your CAPS LOCK key is stuck. The article tells us “Congressional investigators have—or will soon have—a total of 67,000 emails sent or received by Ms. Lerner.”

        It doesn’t tell us if this includes or does not include the two-years of lost E-mail. Also, since the House of Representatives only has 51 days scheduled to be in session between June 13 and December 31, do you really think they will be doing anything of substance?

  • stevenaquinn

    Sounds EXACTLY like the statement made by Kleindienst during the Watergate investigation.

  • StocktonJoe

    First of all, I trust the US Government and ALL of it’s departments. I do. They lie every time about every thing. And I have yet to be proven wrong. But come on, people. This lie is even worse than the Rosemary Woods lie of all those years ago. Are we going to be treated to pictures – in today’s age videos – of Lois Lerner sprawled out reaching for her computer a’la those awful pictures of Rosemary Woods? And the worst thing of all is the incompetence of believing, and trying to convince everybody, that those emails lived ONLY on one computer. The Federal Government is required by it’s own law to retain such emails. They live on multiple servers specifically to PREVENT such “accidents.” And what hurts is that they EXPECT me to believe this lie. That insults my intelligence.

    • jb1111

      Time for Obama to resign …… just like Nixon !!

      • Cristóbal Colón

        He won’t, but it really is time for Lois and some IRS I.T. agents to go to jail.

  • It’s called an email server and it controls email routing along with archiving and backups. The only way to get rid of emails is to delete it AND the disaster recovery system AND the external storage archived backup.

    Next step – subpoena workers in the IRS information technology group and under penalty of law ask them if they were ordered to remove files from these devices because you can be assured management didn’t know how.

    • JWPicht

      You have to wonder – If Rosemary Woods had to erase that 18 1/2 minute bit of tape two or three times to make it unreadable, how many times did Lois Lerner have to drop the server to obliterate those emails?

      • Tweetytude

        hahahaha

  • cweat

    The IRS is going to be certain that the taxpayers foot a huge bill for having the temerity to question their integrity. Almost everyone in DC has forgotten who they are supposed to be representing and are employed by. We should begin construction of a new prison somewhere close by like Virginia with a gallows next to the front gate and start cleaning house. The prison would provide long term employment for locals as an added bonus.

    • Screwed_in_Ca

      Fema camps are already built.

  • Pam

    The Government has expert that can recover anything in cyberspace. Unless of course those same experts were the ones that erased all the information in the first place.

  • JEANNIEMAC2

    A rule of the IRS regarding emails, is that paper copies were to be kept and archived. Where are these copies?

  • jkubin

    Can’t we get some of the tech brain trust from Microsoft to recover them? Nothing is ever really lost once put on a computer.

  • Pingback: @SarahPalinUSA ➡ Compares Lerner’s lost IRS emails to Nixon’s erased Watergate tape | Barracuda Brigade()