IRS says hard drive that lost emails destroyed

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IRS says hard drive that lost emails destroyed
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., grills Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen as he testifies before the House Oversight Committee as lawmakers continue their probe of whether tea party groups were improperly targeted for increased scrutiny by the IRS, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 23, 2014. The IRS asserts it can't produce emails from seven officials connected to the tea party investigation because of computer crashes, including the emails from Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the investigation. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Lois Lerner emails obtained from the House Ways and Means Committee are displayed in Washington, Wednesday, July 30, 2014. A former IRS official at the heart of the agency's tea party controversial called Republicans "crazies" and more in newly released emails. Lois Lerner used to head the IRS division that handles applications for tax-exempt status. In a series of emails with a colleague in November 2012, Lerner made two disparaging remarks about members of the GOP, including one remark that was profane. Republican Rep. Dave Camp, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, released the emails Wednesday as part of his committee's investigation. Camp says the emails show Lerner's disgust with conservatives. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
FILE - In this March 5, 2014, file photo, former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois Lerner speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Justice Department is investigating the circumstances behind the disappearance of emails from Lerner, part of a broader criminal inquiry into whether the agency had targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, according to congressional testimony released Wednesday. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File)
Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen testifies before the House Oversight Committee as lawmakers continue their probe of whether tea party groups were improperly targeted for increased scrutiny by the IRS, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 23, 2014. The IRS asserts it can't produce emails from several officials connected to the tea party investigation because of computer crashes, including the emails from Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the investigation. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen testifies under subpoena before the House Oversight Committee as lawmakers continue their probe of whether tea party groups were improperly targeted for increased scrutiny by the IRS, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 23, 2014. The IRS asserts it can't produce emails from several officials connected to the tea party investigation because of computer crashes, including the emails from Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the investigation. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight Committee, joined at left by Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking member, leads the questioning of Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen as lawmakers continue their probe of whether tea party groups were improperly targeted for increased scrutiny by the IRS, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 23, 2014. The IRS asserts it can't produce emails from seven officials connected to the tea party investigation because of computer crashes, including the emails from Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the investigation. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen is sworn in before the House Oversight Committee as lawmakers continue their probe of whether tea party groups were improperly targeted for increased scrutiny by the IRS, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 23, 2014. The IRS asserts it can't produce emails from seven officials connected to the tea party investigation because of computer crashes, including the emails from Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the investigation. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, grills Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen as the House Oversight Committee continues its probe of whether tea party groups were improperly targeted for increased scrutiny by the IRS, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 23, 2014. The IRS asserts it can't produce emails from seven officials connected to the tea party investigation because of computer crashes, including the emails from Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the investigation. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kansas, accompanied by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, left, and Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind, attacks the excuse given by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that it has lost more emails connected to a tea party investigation, Wednesday, June 18, 2014, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
FILE - This March 5, 2014 file photo shows former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois Lerner speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. A federal judge is ordering the IRS to explain _ under oath _ how it lost a trove of emails to and from a central figure in the agency's tea party controversy. U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan gave the tax agency a month to submit the explanation in writing. Sullivan issued the order Thursday as part of a freedom of information lawsuit by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group. The IRS says it lost the emails in 2011 when Lois Lerner’s computer crashed. At the time, Lerner headed the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File)
House Oversight Committee member Rep. John Mica, R-Fla. waves a copy of an emailed document addressed to IRS official Lois Lerner as he joined with committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., in demanding that Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen provide all of Lerner’s emails as the panel’s GOP majority continues the probe of whether tea party groups were improperly targeted for increased scrutiny by the IRS, Wednesday, March 26, 2014, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., chairman of the Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee, drills Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen as the full committee continues its probe of whether tea party groups were improperly targeted for increased scrutiny by the IRS, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, June 20, 2014. Listening at left is Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill. The IRS asserts it can't produce emails from seven officials connected to the tea party investigation because of computer crashes, including the emails from Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the investigation who has invoked her Fifth Amendment right at least nine times to avoid answering lawmakers' questions. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen talks to reporters during a break in his appearance before the House Ways and Means Committee on their continuing probe of whether tea party groups were improperly targeted for increased scrutiny by the IRS, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, June 20, 2014. The IRS asserts it can't produce emails from seven officials connected to the tea party investigation because of computer crashes, including the emails from Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the investigation who has invoked her Fifth Amendment right at least nine times to avoid answering lawmakers' questions. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., chairman of the Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee, listens as Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen tesifies to the full committee in its probe of whether tea party groups were improperly targeted for increased scrutiny by the IRS, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, June 20, 2014. Listening at left is Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill. The IRS asserts it can't produce emails from seven officials connected to the tea party investigation because of computer crashes, including the emails from Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the investigation who has invoked her Fifth Amendment right at least nine times to avoid answering lawmakers' questions. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER

WASHINGTON (AP) - The IRS says Lois Lerner's computer hard drive was destroyed three years ago, ending any chance of retrieving her lost emails.

The IRS says in court papers filed Friday that the hard drive was destroyed in 2011 after two sets of trained technicians tried to retrieve the data. The tax agency says it was standard procedure to destroy old data storage equipment that may have contained confidential taxpayer information.

The IRS says Lerner's computer crashed that year, destroying an untold number of emails. At the time, Lerner headed the division that handles applications for tax-exempt status.

Lerner is a central figure in congressional investigations into the handling of applications by tea party groups.

A federal judge had ordered the IRS to explain what happened to the hard drive.

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