The House Oversight Committee is holding hearings this week concerning the disappearance of a vast trove of emails from former IRS chief Lois Lerner. Yesterday, current IRS Commissioner John Koskinen faced pointed questioning from the committee, whose members appeared deeply skeptical of the agency's actions and motives. "We have a problem with you and you have a problem with credibility," declared House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) pressed the point further, accusing Koskinen of gross negligence and of failing to take the situation seriously.
"You have already said, multiple times today, that there was no evidence that you found of any criminal wrongdoing," said Gowdy. "I want you to tell me: What criminal statutes you have evaluated?"
"I have not looked at any," Koskinen was forced to concede.
Today the House Oversight Committee will hear testimony from Jennifer O'Connor, a current White House official who served at the IRS in 2013. As the Associated Press explains:
Issa subpoenaed O'Connor on Monday night after the White House declined his invitation to have her testify. After getting the subpoena, the White House relented.
Issa said he wants to question O'Connor about former IRS official Lois Lerner's lost emails. The IRS said Lerner's computer crashed in 2011, and emails she had archived on the hard drive were lost….
"Before her promotion to the White House, Ms. O'Connor led the response to the congressional targeting inquiry and she is uniquely qualified to explain why attorneys did not focus on and flag Lerner's 'lost' emails at the outset," Issa said.
Meanwhile, as Reason's Peter Suderman reported yesterday, the IRS had at least one contract with an email backup company during that time whose services were designed to safeguard against the very loss of emails now at issue. "The agency said that emails stored on dead drives were lost forever because its email backup tapes were recycled every six months, and employees were responsible for keeping their own long-term archives," Suderman wrote. Yet "the IRS had a contract with email backup service vendor Sonasoft starting in 2005, according to FedSpending.org, which lists the contract as being for 'automatic data processing services.' Sonasoft's motto is 'email archiving done right,' and the company lists the IRS as a customer."