This morning the head of the IRS, Commissioner John Koskinen, returned to Capitol Hill to testify on the ongoing investigation into the role the IRS played in targeting conservative and tea party groups. This comes after testimony that Lois Lerner, according to the head of the National Archives, broke the law.
The last time Koskinen appeared before the committee, things got testy and many Republican lawmakers questioned his credibility as a truthful witness. The commissioner testified that Lerner’s hard drive had been destroyed after her computer crash. This is despite the fact that Lerner’s emails were sent to and from her BlackBerry, which leaves the possibility that her phone could be searched.
How things change in only a few weeks. On Monday, the Washington Examiner reported that while investigating the missing emails, a witness came forward to the Oversight Committee. The transcript reads as follows:
Kane: There is an issue as to whether or not there is a — that all of the backup recovery tapes were destroyed on the six-month retention schedule.
Investigator: So some of those backup tapes may still exist?
Kane: I don’t know whether they are or they aren’t, but it’s an issue that’s being looked at.
With this new information, Koskinen’s testimony changed completely. According to a Fox News report:
The head of the IRS confirmed Wednesday that investigators looking into missing emails from ex-agency official Lois Lerner have found and are reviewing “backup tapes” — despite earlier IRS claims that the tapes had been recycled.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, testifying before a House oversight subcommittee, stressed that he does not know “how they found them” or “whether there’s anything on them or not.” But he said the inspector general’s office advised him the investigators are reviewing tapes to see if they contain any “recoverable” material.
The revelation is significant because the IRS claimed, when the agency first told Congress about the missing emails, that backup tapes “no longer exist because they have been recycled.
Kane’s testimony also comes into play because:
According to a transcript from a July 17 interview, Kane told oversight committee investigators that senior leadership in the IRS learned about the apparent hard drive crash in early February. Koskinen, though, did not mention issues with Lerner’s emails at a March 26 hearing, or at a subsequent committee staff meeting, according to Republicans.
Did Koskinen and the IRS purposefully withhold information from the committee? Did Koskinen, by failing to report that the emails still exist, commit perjury?