Josh Earnest: GOP 'Conspiracy Theories' Fuel IRS Email Flap

Friday, 20 Jun 2014 11:03 PM

By Cathy Burke

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The White House on Friday dismissed Congress’ concerns about missing IRS emails amid investigations into the agency’s targeting of conservative groups, calling them "Republican conspiracy theories that just never pan out."

"I think that many Republicans in Congress, at least, particularly in the House, have demonstrated a pretty aggressive appetite for investigating this issue," new White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, The Hill reported.

The IRS stunned Congress earlier in the week that it had lost two years worth of emails belonging to former IRS official Lois Lerner, and an angry Rep. Paul Ryan told IRS Commissioner John Koskinen during a hearing Friday morning that the agency's excuses were "incredible" and "misleading."

At the later White House press briefing, when Earnest was asked whether there were emails from the White House to Lerner's "top aides," the spokesman balked, asking the reporter if the question was "a conspiracy theory being floated" by Republicans. He then rattled off the number of investigations, interviews, and documents handed over by the White House – and said "all of that has done nothing to substantiate false Republican claims of a broader political conspiracy."

Earnest insisted the White House was cooperating with all congressional requests, and yet despite that, "we’ve seen continued allegations of Republican conspiracy theories that just never pan out."

The White House spokesman also noted House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, D-Calif., said in a 2008 committee hearing "archiving in the digital age is not as easy as it might seem," The Hill reported.

Earnest added that the agency's inspector general found no evidence of inappropriate targeting of conservative groups.

"Frankly, we'd prefer it if Republicans would devote this kind of attention and energy to policies that are actually going to create jobs, as opposed to partisan fishing expeditions," Earnest said.

At the earlier contentious congressional hearing, Koskinen denied the agency was covering up or had deliberately lost Lerner's correspondence. The IRS has said a hard drive containing Lerner's emails from 2009-11 crashed, and the equipment was subsequently recycled and destroyed, The Hill reported.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp replied, the "American people have no reason to trust the IRS or, frankly, the administration on this issue."

"You say that you have 'lost' the emails, but what you have lost is all credibility," Camp said.

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