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Archivist: IRS didn't follow law with lost emails

By Eileen Sullivan

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Internal Revenue Service did not follow the law when it failed to report the loss of records belonging to a senior IRS executive, the nation's top archivist told Congress on Tuesday, in the latest development in the congressional probe of the agency's targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

In June 2011, IRS executive Lois Lerner's computer crashed, resulting in the loss of records that are sought in investigations into the agency's actions. At the time, the agency tried to recover Lerner's records, but with no success.

When it was determined later in the summer of 2011 that the records on the hard drive were gone forever, the IRS should have notified the National Archives and Records Administration, U.S. Archivist David Ferriero told members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. But Ferriero learned of the lost records on June 13 when the IRS notified Congress.

"Any agency is required to notify us when they realize they have a problem," Ferriero said.

Lerner is at the center of the controversy and has refused to answer questions from Congress, citing her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself. In May, the House voted to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress. She retired from the IRS last fall after having been placed on paid leave.

In an effort to determine whether the Obama administration had any knowledge or involvement in the activities of the IRS division that reviews applications for tax-exempt status, lawmakers have sought and received thousands of IRS records - none of which has implicated the White House in the controversy. But when it was revealed that some of the emails sought were unrecoverable, Republicans questioned the timing of the hard drive crash, suggesting key records related to the investigation have conveniently gone missing.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has said that he has seen no evidence anyone committed a crime when the agency lost emails.

Pressed by a congressman Tuesday, Ferriero would not state that the IRS broke the law. He would only say that the agency didn't "follow" the law, referring to the Federal Records Act.

In a rare evening hearing before the same committee on Monday, Koskinen said there was no evidence that Lerner intentionally destroyed the missing emails. To the contrary, he said, the IRS went to great lengths trying to retrieve lost documents on Lerner's computer, even sending it to the agency's forensic lab.

Republicans have said the Obama administration has not been cooperative with Congress' investigation.

"They've not only not fully cooperated, they haven't done a damn thing to help us get to the truth of what really happened," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. "Lois Lerner refuses to tell us the truth, and then all of sudden, `Oh my goodness, we lose two years' worth emails.' Listen, I grew up in a bar. This doesn't pass the straight-face test."

Monday night, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., subpoenaed White House counsel Jennifer O'Connor to testify about her time at the IRS from May to November 2013. While at the IRS, O'Connor helped the agency gather documents related to the congressional investigation.

On Tuesday, when he questioned O'Connor, Issa called her a "hostile witness."

O'Connor disagreed. "I'm definitely not hostile," she said.

Later in the hearing, Issa said he consulted with another member who is a former prosecutor and the proper term to describe O'Connor was a "non-cooperative witness."

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the White House has been cooperating throughout the investigation.

"Our commitment to cooperating with legitimate congressional oversight and in some cases illegitimate congressional oversight is pretty well documented," Earnest said. Asked if the House Oversight and Government Reform committee's investigation was "illegitimate," Earnest said, "I'm saying that there are legitimate questions that can be raised about the partisan motivation of some of those who are conducting oversight in this circumstance."

The IRS was able to generate 24,000 Lerner emails from the 2009 to 2011 period because she had copied in other IRS employees. Overall, the IRS said it is producing a total of 67,000 emails to and from Lerner, covering the period from 2009 to 2013.

The IRS inspector general is investigating the lost emails, Koskinen said.

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gov111w June 24 2014 at 5:40 PM

I spent 44 years in Data Processing just recently retired. If any of these people really think we are buying this lie about the emails disappearing, they are stupider than I think. All data must be backed up, most is backed up daily, weekly monthly quarterly semi-annually and yearly. They would have you believe the disk failed and no backup existed. This is BS !!!. More lies from a period of time when lies are a normal way of doing business it seems.

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33 replies
D June 24 2014 at 5:39 PM

Don't look here, it doesn't smell...first she plead the 5th (after telling everyone she did nothing wrong) then, magically all the emails disappear...(hard drive crash which doesn't hold emails) then
President Obama say....There is NOT a smidgen of evidence..(well..of course not, from the top down this has been taken care of. Welcome to the New Socialist nation...U (for used to be) S for socialist A for a$$holes (basically that was for the reporters who are suppose to report the truth but their own agenda is more important)
THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY OUT...IMPEACH OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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13 replies
wewilldestroyyoufromtheinside June 24 2014 at 5:47 PM

Fish rots from the head down.
The IRS targeting of Conservatives for harassment was done during a two year election period with direct ties to Democrat Party members and President Barack Hussein Obama.
This administration is by far
the most corrupt in America's history.
off to prison?
Like I said,
"Fish rots from the head down"...
Start with Barack Hussein Obama...

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28 replies
vanwrinkles June 24 2014 at 5:38 PM

But wait, the president said there was"not a smidgen of corruption here". We all know he would never lie to us. Just ask anyone black or or government assistance.

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15 replies
debnaert June 24 2014 at 5:36 PM

YOUR going down LOIS. You are an underhanded LIAR! Your face shows all kinds of guilt. If you think for one minute that the decent American people will just let this go YOUR WRONG! Your going to do some serious prison time.

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27 replies
rklotz44 June 24 2014 at 5:40 PM

Nixon only dreamed of this type of abusive power, the Obama regime flaunts it with impunity. I wonder how forgiving the IRS would be to a victim of one of their audits who had lost receipts or couldn't remember dates or write-offs to the degree these people lose their emails and memories. This administration is Lawless.

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14 replies
markschupp June 24 2014 at 5:41 PM

Even supporters of Nixon had enough character to admit that the mysterious disappearance of evidence was itself suggestive of wrongdoing, if not independently incriminating.

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7 replies
lareginaproduce June 24 2014 at 5:43 PM

NOT a Smidgeon of Corruption. Yeah Right and How the President know that without all the evidence in ?. LIES.!!!

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4 replies
are.we.better.off.now June 24 2014 at 6:07 PM

The IRS reminds me
of a pit filled with slithering snakes.
Barack Hussein Obama
is the flute playing snake charmer.
Controlling these Liberal snakes to do his bidding
and harm / target his opponents.
Who all happen to be Conservatives.
It is time to remove all these
snakes before our country is lost.

Flag Reply +82 rate up
8 replies
Carolyn June 24 2014 at 5:42 PM

And these inept people are in charge of gov't departments. What a shame.

Flag Reply +75 rate up
14 replies
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