The email by former IRS official Lois Lerner warning employees to be careful what they wrote in emails because they could be the subject of a congressional investigation is a sign that she was engaged in "record cleansing" at the agency, says Rep. John Mica of Florida.
The email was discovered
and released by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. It was written 12 days after the IRS inspector general had released a draft report detailing the targeting of conservative groups applying for nonprofit status. Mica is a senior member of that committee.
"We did get — I call it a 'smoking ember' — which again leads us to believe that Lois Lerner, just days after the Treasury Departments' inspector general included in a report that those officials were targeting conservative groups, she started again this record cleansing, I have to call it," the Republican congressman told J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV
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"And now we find out that there was also an internal instant messaging system," he added.
"She wanted to make sure everything was cleansed," Mica alleges. "Isn't this strange that this is just a few days around the time this report comes out that she's trying to clean things up, and then suddenly 27 months of her emails disappear."
The IRS said in June
that it had lost thousands of Lerner's emails that Congress had requested, and House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa questioned the veracity of the claim.
Issa said the latest email released by his committee could be "a smoking gun"
that there was a coverup that the federal agency was targeting tea party and other conservative groups for political purposes.
"It wasn't 18 minutes like Rosemary Woods with President Nixon," Mica told Newsmax.
"But over two years of emails disappear and here she's trying to clean up even this internal instant messaging system that we learned about through these emails," he said.
The email was released at a hearing Wednesday with IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, who first revealed to Congress that Lerner's emails were lost and her hard drive was destroyed.
"He had testified to us that there were no hard copies, none of the emails," Mica said. "Now he has altered that statement and said that some were printed."
The Florida congressman says he does not believe Koskinen lied, but that "he was kept in the dark and fed mushrooms."
"He just came on in January and they only fed him what they wanted him to know," Mica said.
"I've known John for years. I'm quite surprised that he didn't dig a little deeper. I'm quite surprised that he came before us ... in April and had learned in March that there had been problems with some of the records he didn't disclose to us," he said.
"But again, I don't know how much they told him or when they told him."
Mica said that "what was stunning yesterday" at the hearing Wednesday was that the FBI has been conducting a "so-called FBI investigation of this for over a year and the FBI has never talked to Koskinen."
The member of the House Oversight Committee said that he "asked Koskinen if he could give us for the record — and we intend to get that information — who the FBI talked to at IRS."
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