by Greg Richter
All of former IRS official Lois Lerner’s missing emails are backed up, but it is too difficult to retrieve them for congressional investigators, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton says a Justice Department lawyer told his group.
“Department of Justice attorneys for the Internal Revenue Service told Judicial Watch on Friday that Lois Lerner’s emails, indeed all government computer records, are backed up by the federal government in case of a government-wide catastrophe,” Judicial Watch said on Monday.
Obama administration attorneys said the back-up system would be “too onerous to search,” the Judicial Watch statement continued.
“We want to know why they hadn’t told the court about this back-up system. If this back-up system is working, Lois Lerner’s emails are there,” Fitton said Monday on Fox News Channel’s “The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson.”
“There are half a dozen other IRS officials whose emails have supposedly disappeared as well . . . We’ve been led to believe that once they disappear they can’t be found again, when in fact they back up everything, as most people suspected.”
Fitton said Judicial Watch would ask the judge handling the case to order the records released. Judicial Watch is trying to obtain the emails through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said that in light of the news he will recall IRS Commissioner John Koskinen for a deposition.
Koskinen has previously testified before Issa’s committee that the IRS made every effort possible to find backups to Lerner’s emails, which the agency says were lost when her computer hard drive crashed.
The missing emails come from a period in which Lerner is alleged to have targeted for extra scrutiny tea party and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.
“We look forward to finding out how the commissioner could say they don’t exist when in fact they do,” Issa said Monday on Fox News Channel’s “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.”
“He either lied under oath or he chose not to know a critical fact.”
Issa also called on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor for the IRS investigation because one of the Justice Department lawyers defending the IRS in the tea party case may have been involved in the targeting.
Issa produced an email from IRS official Ronald J. Shoemaker, dated March 27, 2010, that told recipients to let him know if they came across any cases of tea party groups seeking tax-exempt status.
One of the email’s recipients was Andrew Strelka, who worked for the IRS at the time and is now a DOJ lawyer assigned to defend the IRS.
Issa said Strelka knew Lerner when he worked at the IRS. In fact, he was made aware of Lerner’s hard drive crash through emails, he told Van Susteren.
“This is not a detached individual,” Issa said.