IRS Commissioner John Koskinen admits that it looks suspicious that emails disappeared when former IRS official Lois Lerner's computer hard drive crashed, but says he isn't convinced that anything illegal happened.
Appearing Thursday on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer,"
Koskinen admitted that it could look fishy that Lerner's hard drive crashed and was unrecoverable only 10 days after House Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp wrote to Lerner's boss, seeking information of conservative groups being targeted for scrutiny by the agency.
"It is suspicious," Koskinen told Blitzer, adding, "When we uncovered it we pursued evidence to try to figure out what happened. We found a train of emails that the Congress has had for some time that noted that they worked extraordinarily hard to try to recover those emails."
Koskinen also said that 24,000 of Lerner's emails have been turned over to congressional investigations, including some dating to April 2011, two months before the hard drive crash.
Koskinen suggested that since not all of Lerner's emails disappeared, there may be nothing nefarious to infer from the crash that lost many of them. He also said that if Lerner had purposely destroyed the emails she wouldn't have continued writing more.
Still, Koskinen said, the missing emails and the targeting of conservatives is "a serious matter."
"I've been around Washington a long time, and when evidence is not available it … I don't know if it's criminal or not, but certainly we need to get to the bottom of it," he said.
That said, he doesn't favor a special prosecutor, as some Republicans, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz
, have sought unsuccessfully. Koskinen said the thinks it would be a waste of taxpayers' money and wouldn't uncover anything the seven current investigations couldn't find.
"Whatever the facts are, we'll deal with them," he said.
Koskinen, a longtime Democratic donor, including to the campaign of President Barack Obama, bristled at the suggestion he is acting in a partisan manner, pointing out that he was asked by President George W. Bush to head up Freddy Mac.
"I've never been a partisan operative or political operative," he said.
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