IRS Lawyer: Lerner Emails Still Could Be Retrievable

Monday, 21 Jul 2014 07:12 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Two years' worth of missing IRS emails from former official Lois Lerner could still be available on backup, an agency official says.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Monday released a transcript of a closed-door interview with Thomas Kane, an IRS lawyer, raising the possibility that the lost emails from Lerner, who is at the center of the IRS targeting scandal, still could be retrieved.

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The release was posted by the Washington Examiner, illustrating an exchange between Kane and committee investigators after committee Chairman Darrell Issa, a California Republican, issued a subpoena.

"There is an issue as to whether or not there is a —  that all of the backup recovery tapes were destroyed on the six-month retention schedule," Kane told a committee investigator, according to the transcript.

"So some of those backup tapes may still exist?" the investigator asked, to which Kane replied: "I don't know whether they are or they aren't, but it's an issue that's being looked at."

In its release of the transcript, the Oversight Committee noted that the new testimony " is at odds" with a June 13 memo sent to Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch reporting that the IRS "confirmed that backup tapes from 2011 no longer exist because they have been recycled."

"Finding out that IRS Commissioner [John] Koskinen jumped the gun in reporting to Congress that the IRS 'confirmed' all backup tapes had been destroyed makes me even more suspicious of why he waited months to inform Congress about lost Lois Lerner emails," Issa said, Politico reported.

But a Democratic panel staffer charged the transcripts were "cherry-picked" parts of a broader conversation in which Kane said he'd seen no evidence that Lerner or any other IRS workers purposely destroyed emails, Politico reported.

"Did you uncover any evidence that Ms. Lerner intentionally destroyed her hard drive? . . .  [or] intentionally destroyed documents or emails . . . [or] uncover any evidence that any IRS employee intentionally destroyed documents or emails to avoid their disclosure?" one investigator asked, to which Kane essentially replied, Politico reported: "I have seen nothing to that effect."

According to The Daily Caller, the testimony also shows that other officials' computers crashed, bringing the total number of crash victims to "less than 20." They include David Fish, who regularly emailed Lerner, as well as Lerner subordinate Andy Megosh, Lerner's technical adviser Justin Lowe, and Cincinnati-based agent Kimberly Kitchens, The Daily Caller reported.

A Washington Post blog, meanwhile, reported a list of six questions released Monday by the International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers that would help figure out whether the lost emails were an alleged cover-up of potentially incriminating communications or were just " bad technology management."

According to the association, those questions would be: what happened to certain Internet technology managers "who appear to have disappeared at a key juncture"; where is documentation proving the IRS wiped or destroyed Lerner's hard drive; were the drives destroyed by an outside firm; what are the IRS policies on document retention; what is the IRS' disaster-recovery policy; and where are Lerner's Blackberry emails.

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