Time for a special prosecutor on IRS after “lost” e-mails?

posted at 2:31 pm on June 14, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

It’s been more than 400 days since the IRS targeting scandal broke, and longer than that since the Inspector General started its probe of the tax-exempt office and their alleged political bias. Members of Congress had asked IRS officials more than two years ago about puzzling delays in applications from conservative groups. Yet, according to the Obama administration, only yesterday did the IRS get around to confirming that a supposed computer crash had wiped out two years of e-mail history from Lois Lerner and her group, after months of being under subpoena to supply it.

Needless to say, members of Congress aren’t buying this latest dog-ate-my-homework excuse:

Congressional investigators are fuming over revelations that the Internal Revenue Service has lost a trove of emails to and from a central figure in the agency’s tea party controversy.

The IRS said Lois Lerner’s computer crashed in 2011, wiping out an untold number of emails that were being sought by congressional investigators. The investigators want to see all of Lerner’s emails from 2009 to 2013 as part of their probe into the way agents handled applications for tax-exempt status by tea party and other conservative groups. …

“Do they really expect the American people to believe that, after having withheld these emails for a year, they’re just now realizing the most critical time period is missing?” said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight Committee. “If there wasn’t nefarious conduct that went much higher than Lois Lerner in the IRS targeting scandal, why are they playing these games?” …

If anyone in the Obama administration outside the agency was involved, investigators were hoping for clues in Lerner’s emails.

“The fact that I am just learning about this, over a year into the investigation, is completely unacceptable and now calls into question the credibility of the IRS’ response to congressional inquiries,” said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. “There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the inspector general.”

This excuse doesn’t even make sense, as anyone who has experience in network and e-mail administration can easily attest. E-mail records aren’t preserved only on individual computers, but on network servers. The relevant files would be kept on the servers or on backup media, which would have data for the whole organization and not just a single user. That was true when I did network administration in the early 1990s, and it’s most certainly even more true now. And it’s especially true in organizations that require data storage and full retrieval capacity by statute — such as federal agencies like the IRS.

If such a crash occurred, it would have affected much more than just Lerner — and would have produced a significant response when it happened. Gabriel Malor wonders where the records of such a failure are:

By the way, the FBI does great work in restoring data from crashed hard drives. They should also be able to restore most if not all of Lois Lerner’s e-mails in and out of the IRS, if the IRS’ nonsensical claims that this data loss only affected Lerner are even remotely true, by drilling into the archives of every other person’s e-mail in Treasury, Justice, and the White House. After all, Lerner didn’t just post notes on a bulletin board, but sent e-mails to others and had replies back from them. I’d bet that the FBI would do that in a significant criminal investigation if necessary, and the IRS would do it in a heartbeat if it suspected a corporation of tax evasion and was told that the emails for one particular executive were “lost.”

Ron Fournier writes that it’s time for a special prosecutor to deal with the Obama administration excuses in the IRS scandal:

A sloppy mistake, the government calls it, but you couldn’t blame a person for suspecting a cover-up — the loss of an untold number of emails to and from the central figure in the IRS tea party controversy. And, because the public’s trust is a fragile gift that the White House has frittered away in a series of second-term missteps, President Obama needs to act.

If the IRS can’t find the emails, maybe a special prosecutor can. …

The White House is stonewalling the IRS investigation. The most benign  explanation is that Obama’s team is politically expedient and arrogant, which makes them desperate to change the subject, and convinced of their institutional innocence. That’s bad enough. But without a fiercely independent investigation, we shouldn’t assume the explanation is benign.

I’m old enough to remember when Karl Rove’s use of his personal e-mail to get around the retention requirements for the Bush administration was bandied about as nearly an impeachable offense. Now we have this laughable excuse for not producing records in a case of abuse of executive power against political opponents of the President. Somehow, it’s a little difficult for people to even consider that the stonewalling is benign, let alone the insult to the intelligence that this excuse is.

I’m also old enough to remember when an 18.5-minute gap on a tape was prima facie evidence of obstruction of justice. So is Roger Kimball, for that matter, who asks which is worse — 18.5 minutes of erased tape, or two years of erased e-mails?

Update: It’s been nearly 20 years since I did any serious network-administration work (outside of call-center systems), but The Blaze has six reasons from a current IT professional why the IRS story is nonsense.

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Meow, you getting any of this?

Bmore on June 14, 2014 at 11:39 PM

There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice

HahahaHahahaHaha…!!!!!! *gasp* HahahaHahahaHahahaHahahaHahahaHahahaHahahaHahaha!!!!!!

KS Rex on June 14, 2014 at 11:49 PM

This should be the Nixon tapes all over again, but with a criminal DoJ, and flaccid House I am not confident.

NotCoach on June 14, 2014 at 11:55 PM

This administration laughs at the law.

Axion on June 15, 2014 at 12:04 AM

I’d welcome a special prosecutor in on this IRS scandal. Issa’s a wealthy businessman kind of fumbling along in this investigation. I’m thinking a reason why the special prosecutor hasn’t already been named is that there are a few establishment Republicans in the mix (even Boehner’s a possibility) that will bubble to the surface with the likes of Cummings, Levin and Schumer who have been sicking the IRS and the FBI on the Tea Party groups.

gracie on June 15, 2014 at 12:13 AM

I wouldn’t trust Eric Holder any farther than I could watch him drop through a scaffold after a fair and impartial trial.

If we recover the Senate, we will have the leverage of the purse to work with, but we will have to choose our battles there, too. The press may be wavering a bit, but they will not abandon the Democrats in a showdown, and Obama has nothing at all to lose.

So we can probably get away with ONE shutdown showdown, we need to have all our leverage in the budget package at that time. Unfortunately, even a public that has turned on Obama will not tolerate the shutting down of government repeatedly to accomplish political goals.

Clinton was unpopular going into the 1995 shutdown battles, too, but he was more popular coming out of them even though we achieved most of what we demanded.

Adjoran on June 15, 2014 at 2:08 AM

Yes, a special prosecutor is needed.

But first, an opposition party is needed.

David Blue on June 15, 2014 at 2:31 AM

Either somebody’s lying to Congress, or somebody’s been destroying evidence–actual crimes, both.

The idea that someone would commit a crime to cover up a non-crime stretches credulity.

Archangel Nation on June 15, 2014 at 3:27 AM

In the same letter that reported the “loss” to Congress, the IRS also suggested that the investigation be terminated.

“We destroyed all of the evidence, so you may as well go about your other business.” Gangster government, indeed.

Picaro on June 15, 2014 at 5:24 AM

There is no way that the irs does not back up its data.

dougless on June 15, 2014 at 5:36 AM

Sorry to tell you, but emails are stored on your network server as well as individual PC’s. So, did both machines crash? What about the backup tapes? Were they destroyed as well? The IRS does do backups, right? I’m not buying this but what is the House going to do about it? Gowdy hasn’t even convened one meeting yet!

Boats48 on June 15, 2014 at 7:07 AM

Issa sucks! He is definitely part of the problem. He likes grandstanding once in a while, but seems to have no intention of getting to the bottom on this or any other investigation he’s led. He is obviously in on the whole scam. If we were going to hear this latest lie, it should have been revealed a year ago. Issa is slow-pedaling for the administration.

kpguru on June 15, 2014 at 7:50 AM

Time for a Special Prosecutor was many months ago. On multiple items.

As was an impeachment for Holder, if that is the right venue.

And, of course, that whole LIST of stuff to impeach Obama with, since he’s now feels that he’s twice the Teflon president of Reagan. And the press went after Reagan while this one layers on more Teflon.

ProfShadow on June 15, 2014 at 8:00 AM

The administration is lawless and corrupt.
This is what happens when you elect a racist and stealth communist.
Which begs the question of what actually occurred during Obama’s college and post-graduate years and who funded him. The answers to how this criminal became president lie there.

justltl on June 15, 2014 at 8:51 AM

You know, I was thinking about this half-baked claim of theirs. Suppose I have an email exchange going on with my boss over a period of time. These exchanges include a couple of other people via fwd and cc’d messages. So my computer “crashes” and these messages are no longer on my computer. That’s baloney, because just because I can no longer log into my email on MY computer, I can go to the library and log in, or buy a new computer and log in, the messages will still be there on some server somewhere. So will all the exchanges I made, so will the fwd and cc’d messages. To claim that emails have just disappeared off not only her computer, but the mailboxes of EVERYONE she sent and received email from is ridiculous. I once had DELETED mail from a few years back retrieved from a server at work because I needed a receipt that I had deleted.

scalleywag on June 15, 2014 at 9:19 AM

The article says that no one believes that, “Needless to say, members of Congress aren’t buying this latest dog-ate-my-homework excuse:…………..” Well, my guess is that many Democrats are going to look the other way and not call for a special prosecutor. Special prosecutors have been needed for some time in this scandal and others.

SC.Charlie on June 15, 2014 at 9:29 AM

I guess CBS is really glad they fired their only reporter, or they might actually have had to do a story about this.

AesopFan on June 15, 2014 at 10:24 AM

I think they’re trying to sell ” Lois Lerner’s dog ate the emails. And then Obama ate the dog.” Blaming a video has already been used.

t on June 15, 2014 at 10:29 AM

Unless Lois Lerner sent the emails to herself, the committee is free to ask for copies of all emails from Lois Lerner to other IRS employees.

Oh, and please send the “faulty” drives in for expert data recovery.

virgo on June 15, 2014 at 12:17 PM

Just a couple of IT gurus should help – they can “find” those “lost” emails.

Dems cheat, lie and steal. No moral character left in them.

MN J on June 15, 2014 at 2:18 PM

That was true when I did network administration in the early 1990s, and it’s most certainly even more true now

Actually, not. There was no “cloud” in the early 1990s.

corona79 on June 15, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Obama’s low-life lying flunkies know they are protected by a super non-transparent, lying president that is protected by the Senate democrats (and MSM) that he knows won’t impeach him. If he can’t be impeached, well…

Blame these protective senate democrats, they are the source of Obama’s power for ever more evil.

Chessplayer on June 15, 2014 at 3:33 PM

Actually, not. There was no “cloud” in the early 1990s.

corona79 on June 15, 2014 at 3:30 PM

If by that you mean there was no marketing term “cloud”, you are correct, but technically it refers to the internet and the use of VPN which has been around for many years now, as we all know.

virgo on June 16, 2014 at 1:02 AM

oscarwilde on June 14, 2014 at 5:31 PM

That is a crock of crap. The data is recorded on the surface of the media and if it is overwritten sufficiently you’re not getting it back.

The real problem is the hidden copies of things the OS makes. In any case the PC crash story is a red herring. RUBBISH.

dogsoldier on June 16, 2014 at 5:36 AM

…and there is nothing you can do about it.

dcnj on June 16, 2014 at 8:14 AM

Expect zero action from the House. They like the idea of a tyrannical government. Boehner , McCarthy , Ryan are all complicit in this scandal. They will serve up harsh sounding platitudes, but will take no action to stop lawlessness.

I wonder if the Senate will be much different under McConnell. I expect more of the same. The growth of government will not be checked.

kpguru on June 16, 2014 at 8:48 AM

“The IRS said Lois Lerner’s computer crashed in 2011, wiping out an untold number of emails that were being sought by congressional investigators.”

If Lois Lerner’s computer was stuffed full of dynamite and atomized, it wouldn’t affect a single one of her emails. The IRS are not only bald-faced liars. They aren’t even very good liars.

Russ in OR on June 16, 2014 at 9:19 AM

And yet these criminal actions still go unprosecuted and unpunished because we are a nation of laws, right? Repeat after me; jury nullification. If it isn’t a crime for federal pukes, it isn;t a crime anywhere.

earlgrey on June 16, 2014 at 10:55 AM

Don’t hold your breath.

Holder is preventing any investigations into this administration. And he isn’t going to stop doing that.

Especially that this seems to now involve the DOJ!

There used to be a way for Congress to go around DOJ, but I think that was stopped after Clinton.

We let the Democrats get all power. Now we are paying for it.

petunia on June 16, 2014 at 1:57 PM

And yet these criminal actions still go unprosecuted and unpunished because we are a nation of laws, right? Repeat after me; jury nullification. If it isn’t a crime for federal pukes, it isn;t a crime anywhere.

earlgrey on June 16, 2014 at 10:55 AM

Laws are not for Democrats. They are only for Republicans.

To believe any thing else you have to live in the past.

We aren’t a nation of laws. We are a nation of whims.

Our whole current morality is based on what is in style at this moment.

There is no law with Holder at Justice.

petunia on June 16, 2014 at 1:59 PM

kpguru on June 16, 2014 at 8:48 AM

Nice Democrat talking point.

This is how they keep power, through these kind of planted propagandists.

petunia on June 16, 2014 at 2:00 PM

IRS produced the IT department and Helpdesk logs to document Lerner’s “computer crash,” right? Right?

Ummmm, No. We ‘lost’ those too. We really suck at this IT-thang. Soooo sorry.

Archer on June 16, 2014 at 3:40 PM

SPCA should step in and find a way to cite and incarcerate IRS employees for “Animal Cruelty”. Training Homework eating dogs to also eat Tax Returns and emails is cruel and possibly endangering the animal.

Because, we know “Homework Eating” pets are capable of digesting pencil and pen ink. However, there are no Government studies showing the impact to dogs or other animals consuming government ink, watermarks, and paper would have.

MSGTAS on June 18, 2014 at 9:47 AM