Attkisson: IRS Claim of Lost Lerner Emails Conflicts With Testimony

Sunday, 15 Jun 2014 10:10 PM

By Greg Richter

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Congressional testimony from IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in March appears to conflict with the agency's claims Friday that the emails have been irretrievably lost because of a hard-drive crash, journalist Sharyl Attkisson reports.

The Internal Revenue Service told Congress on Friday that it could not find a huge trove of Lerner's emails prior to 2011 because her computer hard drive crashed that summer.

But Attkisson, a former investigative reporter for CBS News who now writes independently, posted on her website Sunday that Koskinen's testimony before the House Oversight Committee in March indicated that it could take months or years for the IRS to comply with a congressional subpoena seeking Lerner's emails partly because, "they get taken off and stored in servers."

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That's exactly what many critics said on Friday after the IRS delivered the news of Lerner's hard drive crash. Business email typically is stored on servers, rather than solely on the computer used to send or receive it.

Republicans in Congress want to see Lerner's emails because they believe she may have been behind the targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status that waited for months and years before being told whether they had received the status.

Leaders of the groups, most with tea party affiliations, believe they were targeted to prevent them from influencing the 2012 presidential election where President Barack Obama was in a tight race with Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Under questioning by Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, Koskinen in March said his agency used Microsoft Outlook as its email system – at least for Koskinen's account. But he told Chaffetz that Lerner's emails could not be simply retrieved by typing in her email address because the agency has 90,000-plus employees and that the documents would have to be redacted before they were handed over.

Koskinen said seven months after the initial request from Congress that Lerner's emails were being sought, but made no mention at that time of a computer crash, Attkisson reported.

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