Treasury Department inspectors general testified Thursday that they cannot provide any relevant information related to their search for Lois Lerner’s missing emails. But at least three bits of information came out: the investigation is on hold over software issues, there is potential criminal wrongdoing, and nobody at the IRS even asked for Lerner’s backup email tapes from the people in New Martinsville, West Virginia who had them.
Treasury deputy inspector general Timothy Camus confirmed to the House Oversight Committee that his office found more than 30,000 of Lerner’s emails.
But the Oversight committee has not received all of the emails. At least 8,000 emails are still at the inspector general’s office.
Why is the investigation on hold?
Camus said that he is currently battling it out over licensing issues with a software company that makes some kind of software that Camus needs to “match” the emails he has with the emails that have already been turned over to Congress – so that he can give Congress only the ones that Congress doesn’t have yet. Camus called the software vendor a “renowned company.”
But why don’t the inspectors general just give Congress all the emails they have and let Congress sort through them? Who knows? That’s not clear.
“There is potential criminal activity,” Camus admitted.
Under questioning from chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Camus confirmed that the inspector general found Lerner’s backup email tapes at a storage facility in West Virginia and that the IT professionals who had the tapes were never asked — by the IRS or anyone else — for the tapes. Camus said that he found what he believes are Lerner’s 2011 tapes just two weeks ago.
Camus also said that “the facts as we understand them can and have changed on a daily basis.”
Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney called the hearing a “waste of time.”
The White House has staunchly refused to cooperate with the IRS investigation, passing the buck to the IRS.
“It is my understanding that in May 2014, Commissioner Koskinen responded to this request by indicating that the IRS would be able to address new topics such as these following its completion of document productions already in progress,” White House counsel W. Neil Eggleston told Rep. Paul Ryan last week in a letter. “To the extent that the committee continues to have an oversight interest in this matter, I encourage you to continue working with the IRS to address those questions.”
As The Daily Caller extensively reported, Lerner and her underling Nikole Flax unveiled the new program of nonprofit scrutiny at a 2010 conference of government workers at Washington’s Grand Hyatt hotel. IRS officials obtained donor lists for a “secret research project” that was approved by then-IRS commissioner Steven T. Miller. Lerner provided confidential taxpayer information on a conservative group to senior White House adviser Jeanne Lambrew.
The legal advocacy firm Cause of Action is trying to get some of Lerner’s key emails through a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the Treasury Department’s inspector general (TIGTA). TIGTA found nearly 2,500 pages of documents chronicling investigations into White House-IRS swaps of confidential taxpayer information. But the Cause of Action case has hit a snag.
The Treasury Department’s inspector general filed a motion to dismiss the case, citing Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code, which prohibits disclosures of confidential taxpayer information. In other words, the Obama administration is claiming that because it shared confidential taxpayer information then it cannot legally release documents about how it shared confidential taxpayer information.