Let’s just say that Darrell Issa isn’t exactly convinced by the explanation from the IRS over the missing two years of Lois Lerner e-mails. After getting strung along for more than a year, the sudden discovery that a local hard drive failure erased records that should have been stored permanently prompted the House Oversight Chair to issue a subpoena for IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to testify next week on the missing two years of data (via Katie Pavlich):
A House committee probing the IRS targeting scandal has subpoenaed Commissioner John Koskinen to testify over the agency’s claims it cannot locate a trove of emails belonging to Lois Lerner, the former agency official at the heart of the scandal. ….
Rep. Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he is feels the lost email claims are another example of the IRS’ “repeated empty promises of compliance with oversight.”
“I will not tolerate your continued obstruction and game-playing in response to the Committee’s investigation of the IRS targeting,” Issa, R-Calif., said in a letter accompanying the subpoena. “For too long, the IRS has promised to produce requested – and, later, subpoenaed – documents, only to respond later with excuses and inaction.”
Issa subpoenaed Koskinen to appear at a hearing on June 23.
That’s a very tight time frame for a subpoena response. It’s clearly meant as a signal that patience with the IRS’ dilatory responses has come to an abrupt end, at least in the House. The laughably incompetent excuse also has made those tactics clear and given the sharpest indication yet that the IRS and the Obama administration has something to hide. The impact has been to move this from a “phony scandal” back to the headlines, as Politico’s Mackenzie Weinger and Rachel Bade report:
But even some somewhat more neutral observers say the email issue could be a game changer.
Chris Bergin, publisher at the nonprofit Tax Analysts, said in an interview that he always defended the IRS because he thought they just did something “really stupid” when they singled out conservative groups.
But the news over the weekend has changed his entire perspective of the controversy, he said.
“These developments are disturbing. … How do you lose email? Somebody received it right? This is worrisome… and it takes a year for them to tell us?” Bergin said. …
Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey, a conservative blogger, also said IRS’s “Friday afternoon document dump” informing Congress of the emails lost raises eyebrows.
“That makes it look very suspicious, and put together with Lerner’s refusal to testify, even more so,” he said, later adding: “Now we find out that they’re only keeping their own documentation for six months? In the words of ESPN … come on, man.”
The testimony in this case should be entertaining, even if it’s not enlightening, assuming Koskinen appears at all. I’d bet that he’ll be looking for any way out of the mess. If not, there’s at least a slight chance that Koskinen might follow Lerner’s lead and take the Fifth, especially if Congress starts probing whether he committed obstruction of justice with his testimony in March, which failed to include any mention of known hardware issues and six-month loops on backup tapes.
The two years of e-mails aren’t the only things missing in this sorry adventure in abuse of power, Michael Ramirez argues today in his editorial cartoon for Investors Business Daily.
True The Vote’s Cleta Mitchell has a question for Koskinen, too. If Lerner really lost her e-mails at the time of her hard drive failure, why didn’t she mention it when complaining about her “lost personal files” — even when mentioning e-mails in a separate context in the same message?