Since the IRS asserted a hard drive crash led to the disappearance of countless emails relevant to the ongoing investigation into misbehavior by the agency, many critics contend there must be some way to retrieve that information. According to a number of recent reports, however, the IRS apparently went a step further in making sure that data remains hidden in perpetuity.
Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch said legislators have “been informed that the hard drive has been thrown away.”
This revelation came on the heels of an attempt by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa to secure a hard drive expert’s hand in retrieving the emails.
In light of this new information, it seems unlikely that there will be any opportunity to even access the hard drive. This news is likely to stoke even more suspicion that the agency purposely tried to keep damaging communications between former official Lois Lerner and other administration sources from congressional investigators.
As for the agency, however, a spokesperson confirmed to Politico that “standard IRS protocol was followed in 2011 for disposing of the broken hard drive.”
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Either way, Issa and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp must rely on the word of administration officials in determining which agencies were involved in the effort to unfairly scrutinize conservative groups ahead of the 2010 and 2012 election cycles. A White House statement this week, for example, claimed there was no communication with Lerner during the crucial two-year period affected by the data loss.
Issa responded to the latest news with a blistering statement rebuking the IRS for destroying evidence vital to his investigation.
If the IRS truly got rid of evidence in a way that violated the Federal Records Act and ensured the FBI never got a crack at recovering files from an official claiming a Fifth amendment protection against self-incrimination, this is proof their whole line about “losing” e-mails in the targeting scandal was just one more attempted deception. Old and useless binders of information are still stored and maintained on federal agency shelves; official records, like the e-mails of a prominent official, don’t just disappear without a trace unless that was the intention.