IRS knew for months of ‘lost’ Lerner emails, more documents missing

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Republican lawmakers charged Tuesday that the IRS knew for months they had “lost” a massive trove of emails from embattled ex-IRS official Lois Lerner, but kept it “secret” until this past Friday.

The lawmakers noted that during this period, newly appointed Commissioner John Koskinen nevertheless assured Congress the agency would produce the documents, which are considered critical to their efforts to probe the targeting of Tea Party and other groups. Further, lawmakers said records from six other IRS workers appear to have gone missing as well.

“It looks like the American people were lied to and the IRS tried to cover-up the fact it conveniently lost key documents in this investigation,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., said in a statement.

Republicans on the committee said the agency knew as early as February that emails were missing.

Yet the IRS only revealed last Friday that it had lost an untold number of emails when Lerner’s computer crashed in 2011. Lerner used to head the division that handles applications for tax-exempt status.

The missing emails are mainly messages to and from people outside the IRS, including the White House and other major offices and departments.

The IRS was able to recover 24,000 Lerner emails from 2009 to 2011 because Lerner had copied in other IRS employees. The agency said it pieced together the emails from the computers of 83 other IRS employees.

But Republicans remain dubious about the agency’s claims that the rest simply disappeared.

Camp and Boustany said Tuesday that the problem goes beyond Lerner, revealing the IRS “cannot produce records from six other IRS employees involved in the targeting of conservative groups.”

Among those figures is former chief of staff to the commissioner Nikole Flax.

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