The IRS has informed the House Ways and Means Committee that it has lost Lois Lerner email messages from January 2009–April 2011. Harking back to the allegedly accidental erasure of 18 1/2 minutes of critical Oval Office recordings that contributed to Richard Nixon’s resignation from office, the IRS attributes the loss of Lerner email to a computer crash.
Some email survives: the agency retains Lerner email to and from other IRS employees during this period. The IRS claims it cannot produce email written only to or from Lerner and outside agencies or groups, such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or offices of Democrat congressmen. Funny how that works.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp has issued the following statement, which seems to me short of the harsher indictment that is warranted at this point:
The fact that I am just learning about this, over a year into the investigation, is completely unacceptable and now calls into question the credibility of the IRS’s response to Congressional inquiries. There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the Inspector General.
Just a short time ago, Commissioner Koskinen promised to produce all Lerner documents. It appears now that was an empty promise. Frankly, these are the critical years of the targeting of conservative groups that could explain who knew what when, and what, if any, coordination there was between agencies. Instead, because of this loss of documents, we are conveniently left to believe that Lois Lerner acted alone.
This failure of the IRS requires the White House, which promised to get to the bottom of this, to do an Administration-wide search and production of any emails to or from Lois Lerner. The Administration has repeatedly referred us back to the IRS for production of materials. It is clear that is wholly insufficient when it comes to determining the full scope of the violation of taxpayer rights.
Reminder: The charge that Richard Nixon “endeavored” to misuse the IRS made its way into the second of the three articles of impeachment voted against him by the House Judiciary Committee. Nixon’s efforts to misuse the IRS were futile. They went nowhere. Nixon and his henchmen desired the IRS to “screw” their political opponents, but their efforts were a pathetic failure.
Nixon henchman Jack Caulfield astutely complained that the IRS was a “monstrous bureaucracy…dominated and controlled by Democrats.” As we have come to see, Caulfield was on to something. By contrast with Nixon’s failures to misuse the IRS, the IRS has very effectively “screwed” Obama’s political opponents, and we have yet to learn what the president knew and when he knew it.
UPDATE: At the Daily Caller, Patrick Howley draws the same historical connection I do.
MORE: C.J. Ciaramella has more here, including a quote from an IRS statement. The AP reports: “The IRS said technicians went to great lengths trying to recover data from Lerner’s computer in 2011. In emails provided by the IRS, technicians said they sent the computer to a forensic lab run by the agency’s criminal investigations unit. But to no avail.”