White House Press Sec. Josh Earnest was probed on Friday by the White House press corps over how the administration is complying with congressional investigators pursuing the Internal Revenue Service’s alleged targeting conservative groups with undue scrutiny.
On Friday, congressional investigators grilled IRS Commissioner John Koskinen over his agency failing to disclose that thousands of former executive Lois Lerner’s emails were lost when her computer crashed and was subsequently thrown away. When Earnest was asked if the White House counsel had attempted to recover the emails, Earnest implied that the matter was an effort by Republicans to concoct a “conspiracy.”
“There have been 13 months of multiple congressional investigations, including 14 congressional hearings, 30 interviews with IRS employees, 50 written congressional requests, and 750,000 pages of documents, and all of that has done nothing to substantiate false Republican claims of a broader political conspiracy,” Earnest insisted.
“So I don’t know if you’re floating another conspiracy or if this is a request from Republicans who are floating a conspiracy or what exactly the suggestion is,” he continued. “But the fact of the matter is we’ve cooperated extensively, and despite that cooperation, you know, we’ve seen continued allegations of Republican conspiracy theories that just never pan out.”
Fox News’ Ed Henry noted that the disappearance of two years’ of IRS emails suggests that there has not been “extensive cooperating” with congressional investigators from either the White House or the IRS. “You don’t seem to be taking that point seriously,” he observed.
“I think it’s fair that we recognize that software moves on and that archiving in a digital age is not as easy as it might seem to the public,” Earnest asserted. “Those aren’t just my comments, but those are actually the comments of Congressman Darrell Issa on February 26th, 2008. So, his suggestion that somehow there’s a political conspiracy going on here is not consistent with what he’s previously said on those kind of issues.”
“If the emails were there you could show, hey, there’s no conspiracy,” Henry asked.
“Why are two years of emails missing?” Henry asked again.
“Because there was a — the computer crashed,” Earnest replied.