Sen. John Thune charged on Tuesday that President Barack Obama needed to get "personally" involved in the IRS scandal over lost emails because the agency is "misleading the Congress and the American people."
"This is his administration. This is his IRS," said Thune, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. "What they are doing … is something that needs the top, highest-level investigation by the White House.
"Emails just don’t go missing," the South Dakotan said. "It just doesn’t happen. And there doesn’t seem to be an explanation other than 'we don’t know where they are.'"
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Former IRS supervisor Lois Lerner's computer crashed in June 2011, resulting in the loss of records that are sought in investigations into the agency's targeting of conservative and tea party groups seeking tax-exempt status. At the time, the agency tried to recover the records, but without success.
Republicans have questioned the timing of the hard-drive crash, suggesting key records sought in the investigation have conveniently gone missing.
The scandal took a new turn on Tuesday when the nation's top archivist told Congress that the IRS did not follow the law
when it failed to report the loss of Lerner's records.
"Any agency is required to notify us when they realize they have a problem," David Ferriero, archivist of the U.S., told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has told the panel that he has seen no evidence that anyone committed a crime when the agency lost the emails. The targeting occurred before the 2010 and 2012 elections.
The pattern is pretty clear," said Thune, who sits on the Senate Finance Committee. "They are misleading, evasive, and according to the archivist, not in compliance with the law.
"The American people deserve answers — and the president needs to come forward and get personally involved in this matter and make clear to the American people what exactly happened to the missing emails and what exactly happened when it comes to the targeting of conservative groups."
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