IRS ordered Lerner’s blackberry destroyed after her computer crashed

The New York Observer reports that, according to an IRS court filing, the IRS destroyed Lois Lerner’s Blackberry after it knew her computer had crashed and after a Congressional inquiry was well underway. An IRS official declared under the penalty of perjury that the destroyed Blackberry would have contained the same emails (both sent and received) as Lois Lerner’s hard drive.

Lerner’s hard drive crashed in June 2011 and the IRS destroyed it. A year later, the IRS also destroyed her Blackberry without making any effort to retain the emails it contained. By then, Congress had commenced its investigation into the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups.

In the IRS’s court filing about the destruction of Lerner’s Blackberry, it states:

Standard IRS practice and policy in the collection of electronic data does not include collecting data from Blackberry devices because the email of a Blackberry user is collected through the process of collecting the contents of the user’s Outlook mailbox files.

However, as the Observer’s Sidney Powell points out, this “practice” seems far from “standard” when (a) the user’s computer has crashed and (b) the user is being investigated by Congress. Under these circumstances, destruction of Blackberry without retrieving emails smacks of willful disregard for the law and contempt for Congress.

Fortunately, it now appears that, contrary to the IRS’s prior claims, the missing Lerner emails can be retrieved from federal government-wide backup data. But given the destruction of Lerner’s Blackberry, Judge Sullivan, who is overseeing the search for electronic data, has reason to expand that search. As the Observer says:

Don’t be surprised if Judge Sullivan decides it’s time to order production of everything on that Blackberry, issue subpoenas to third party servers including Blackberry for the dates covered by the Blackberry the IRS destroyed, unleash [Magistrate] Judge Facciola, allow Judicial Watch more discovery, prohibit the IRS from destroying anything else, and start a list of lawyers who would make a good special prosecutor.

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