IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has long asserted that he knew nothing about the corrupted data which resulted in the loss of thousands of former executive Lois Lerner’s emails until the late spring. Republicans have asserted, however, that the information that the received from the IRS suggested to them that the agency was aware of the missing emails as early as February. In testimony before a congressional committee on Friday, it appeared as though Koskinen was coming around to the Republican version of events.
In an explosive exchange on Friday Koskinen was probed by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) over what he seemed to imply was an effort to mislead the committee.
“You already knew in March they were not retrievable,” Brady alleged. “A, you didn’t inform the congressional investigation. B, two months later you told us you would provide all the emails without limitations. And you knew you didn’t have them.”
“By March, I did not know they were irretrievable,” Koskinen countered. Brady interrupted and reminded the commissioner that he had just testified under oath that he was aware of the problems associated with the emails in March.
“Mr. Commissioner, why, at this point, why should anyone believe you?” Brady asked.
“The IRS denied for two years targeting of Americans based on their political beliefs. That wasn’t the truth. They said it was a few rogue agents in Cincinnati. That wasn’t the truth. You said you were targeting liberal organizations. That wasn’t the truth. Then you assured us you would provide us all the emails in May and that wasn’t the truth. And today, you are telling us out of thousands of IRS computers, the one that lost the emails was a person of interest in an ongoing congressional investigation. And that is not the truth either.”
Even the normally subdued Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was smoldering in his questioning of Koskinen. “This is a pattern of abuse,” he said. “A pattern of behavior that is not giving us any confidence that this agency is being impartial.”
The discrepancy seems to have made journalist’s reporter senses go crazy. “Conflict,” declared CNN’s Lisa Des Desjardins:
THIS – CONFLICT: Koskinen just told Congress he learned about hard drive issue in FEB. Monday he told me IRS learned about it "late Spring".
— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDCNN) June 20, 2014
Politico, too, got the same version of events from Koskinen:
Republicans also blasted the IRS for not bringing the missing emails to the attention of congressional investigators sooner.
It says the agency first knew of the emails as early as February 2014. Koskinen on Monday said he learned about the Lerner emails in the Spring.
Koskinen’s story is not airtight.