It seems that not all of the emails written by Lois Lerner, the former IRS official who is at the heart of the scandal concerning targeted conservative and tea party groups, vanished when her hard drive allegedly crashed. It seems that a number have surfaced that she wrote warning fellow IRS employees to watch what they put in their own emails, according to a Wednesday story in the Washington Times. They might be turned over to congressional investigators. Instant messages, however, would not be archived and hence not subject to congressional scrutiny.
Politico adds that the IRS has claimed that over two years of emails from Lerner and other IRS officials between 2009 and 2011 mysteriously vanished when a number of hard drives allegedly crashed. Computer experts point out that cyberforensics should be able to recover most if not all of those emails if the hard drives were still available. The IRS has claimed that the hard drives were “recycled.” The IRS is also required by law to back up important communications.
The scandal stems from the fact that the IRS targeted conservative and tea party groups for special harassment when they applied for tax free status in the run up to the 2012 elections. Intrusive questions ranging from speeches that members of these groups made to even the contents of their prayers were asked. This had the effect of inhibiting the activities of these groups, perhaps contributing to the reelection of President Obama.
Congressional investigators, including House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, have expressed increasing exasperation at the non-responsiveness, some would say stonewalling, by Lerner and the IRS. Lerner herself has invoked her 5th Amendment right not to answer questions that might incriminate her, even though she has pled her innocence. The revelation has solidified suspicions that there is a massive cover up occurring at the IRS and that the matter may extend beyond Lerner.