Issa Calls in White House Counsel to Testify on Lerner's Computer

Thursday, 19 Jun 2014 09:38 PM

By Greg Richter

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Rep. Darrell Issa is not hopeful Thursday about ever recovering former IRS official Lois Lerner's emails, saying he doesn't want to go on a "fishing expedition" for them.

But he is calling in a former IRS counsel now working as a White House attorney to testify about what she knows about the destruction of Lerner's crashed computer.

Jennifer O'Connor is scheduled to testify on Tuesday, Politico reports. O'Connor worked as counselor to acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel for six months last year, when her job was to help the agency respond to Congress's questions about the alleged targeting of conservative groups.

"Given your prominent role in supervising the IRS’s document review and production processes, you likely knew or should have known that the IRS was missing a portion of e-mails sent or received by Ms. Lerner responsive to the Committee’s subpoena," Issa wrote to O'Connor.

The IRS told Congress on Friday that Lerner's emails were lost when the hard drive to her computer crashed. The off-site servers, which backed them up, were erased after six months, and the IRS says it threw away the bad drive.

Issa, a California Republican and chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has subpoenaed the emails as part of his committee's investigation of allegations the IRS targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

"It's clear that this disk drive went to the boneyard at a convenient time with convenient information," Issa said Thursday on Fox News Channel's "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren."

The Federal Records Act required the data be retained, and Issa said that destroying the records without notifying the National Archives was against the law. The National Archives is now running a separate investigation on the data destruction, he said.

"The person who made the decision not to have this drive recovered is the person who took the Fifth: Lois Lerner," Issa said. Lerner, when called before the Committee, asserted her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Issa acknowledged that the recipients of the emails would have copies that could be found, but added, "The problem is, except for the NSA under this administration, who has all those emails?"

To try to subpoena all the various people who might possibly have received emails related to the scandal would be a "fishing expedition," Issa said. His Democratic predecessor Henry Waxman engaged in such tactics because "he just generally had an idea," Issa said, but added, "We would like to be pragmatic and positive and reasonable."

He said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen "was right on the edge of perjury" when he testified earlier this year that it could take up to two years to comply with the subpoena to produce Lerner's emails.

In fact, Issa said, Koskinen knew at the time he testified that he emails were lost and that rather than taking up to two years, "it could take up to forever."

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