On Friday, the American people were given a glimpse as to what the rule of law under an ideologically driven government deteriorates into during the House Ways and Means Committee hearing over the IRS targeting of Tea Party and Conservative groups. Every Democrat during the hearing apologized to the IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, while every single Republican questioned the Commissioner on his agency’s actions. Needless to say, it got ugly fast.
The IRS Commissioner asserted that the IRS could not produce emails surrounding Lois Lerner, the central figure in the Tea Party targeting scandal, as well as six other officials due to a computer hard drive crash in 2011. This “crash” caused two years worth of vital emails from Lerner’s hard drive to become seemingly “lost”. Furthermore, as noted by the Chairman of the Committee Dave Camp, “The years between 2009 and 2011 are the very peak of when the IRS organized and implemented its targeting scheme” against Tea Party and conservative groups. In fact, the Committee itself wasn’t even informed by Koskinen of this seemingly unimportant detail until last Friday.
Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany Jr., M.D. (R-LA) also discovered that the IRS was deliberately keeping secret for months the fact that the agency had lost these critical records. The Ways and Means investigators confirmed on Tuesday that the IRS first knew of the destroyed emails as early as February 2014 – nearly three months prior to newly installed Commissioner John Koskinen telling the Committee the IRS would produce all of Lois Lerner’s emails.
Mr. Koskinen responded to this by confirming that the emails were lost and that the “hard drive has been recycled and destroyed”. But he didn’t stop there, Koskinen went further and claimed that the reason for not only one, or two, but seven separate hard drive crashes, “is to be expected given the agency’s aging technology and lack of funds”.
If the IRS only had more money to help with its “aging technology”, the emails wouldn’t have disappeared specifically between the years of 2009 and 2011. That is essentially Koskinen’s argument.
Yet, if a law abiding American citizen was to claim that very same argument, the IRS would have your assets seized and you’d most likely end up in jail.
Today though, that was the defense upon which the head of the IRS used to justify his agencies actions. He didn’t just break the law by doing this, he also lied under oath. During his opening statement to the Committee, Koskinen stated that “not all emails on IRS servers or backup tapes qualify as an official record, which is defined in 44 U.S.C. 330“.
“Accordingly”, states Koskinen, “Our agency’s email system is not designed to preserve email”. To the everyday citizen who isn’t trained in how to read IRS law, this may appear to be justified, but it isn’t. It is a flat out lies as the IRS’ own manual makes clear that the storage of email must have permanent backups.
In other words, the IRS manual describes that the IRS has storage backup for emails, which it also describes as being apart of the official record. “Permanent” is a key word there, states Ed Morrissey.
“The IRS’ current claim is that it recycles its backup tapes every six months. That’s obviously not permanent. The IRS manual also suggests that there should be printed copies of those “lost” emails. Where are they?
Hopefully time will tell where the emails are, if not, then the IRS will have succeeded in not merely altering the past, but actually destroying it.