On Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee released several more emails in its ongoing investigation of the IRS, written by Lois Lerner. They suggest that Lerner may have tried to hide documents from the congressional investigation.
The emails, which Chairman Darrell Issa tweeted out last night, can be found here on his page. In one of them, Lerner, discussing Microsoft Operating System with an IT member within the IRS, said:
I had a question today about OCS. I was cautioning folks about email and how we have several occasions where Congress has asked for emails and there has been an electronic search for responsive emails – so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails. Someone asked if OCS conversations were also searchable – I don’t know, but told them I would get back to them. Do you know?
The response from Maria Hooke, summarized, is that while the Electronic Data Request goes on an honor system, none of the emails are saved automatically, unless chosen by the user. Lerner’s response: “Perfect.”
While slightly incriminating by itself, this also shows Lerner’s history of avoiding and interfering with the congressional investigation.
From the beginning her testimony—followed by her pleading the Fifth—have come under scrutiny, frustrating the committee and prompting adjournments. Congressman Trey Gowdy famously questioned whether Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment right, since she declared her innocence before refusing to testify.
After several more months, the committee discovered in an email that Lerner wanted what could only be described as a preemptive audit of Senator Chuck Grassley. Fortunately for Grassley, the person in charge rebuked her because the senator had yet to perform the action Lerner inquired about. This demonstrated Lerner’s willingness to attack those by using the power of the IRS. Another major revelation in those emails was that Lerner used her personal BlackBerry to email. Some have called for her phone to be searched as well.
The discovery that the hard drives crashed and were subsequently destroyed makes this email even more damning. With all these facts, the idea that the loss of these emails is somehow a budget issue or tech glitch—both talking points used by liberals in Congress—is insulting.
Gowdy is right. Congress needs to prompt Lerner to testify.