As Western Journalism reported last week, a federal judge came down hard on the IRS, giving the tax agency until last Friday to provide the court with a full status report on the effort to locate, retrieve, and turn over Lois Lerner’s “missing” emails in response to a lawsuit by the watchdog group Judicial Watch.
Judicial Watch sued the IRS in 2013 to enforce its request under the Freedom of Information Act to see Lerner’s emails following an admission by the former head of the agency’s Exempt Organizations unit that the IRS had improperly targeted tea party and other conservative organizations. Despite repeated claims by IRS officials — including the commissioner of the agency — that Lerner’s emails were lost and gone forever, the Inspector General has continued to uncover thousands upon thousands of them from backup drives.
Now The Daily Caller reports that the Internal Revenue Service — under pressure from the federal court, from Congress, and from Judicial Watch attorneys — has disclosed the discovery of 6,400 more of the “missing” Lerner emails. Yet, despite their acknowledged existence, the agency is not turning them over to the court in what one could reasonably say is a transparent attempt to stall and buy time.
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As The Daily Caller article by Patrick Howley tells us, “…the IRS received new Lerner emails from the Treasury Department’s inspector general (TIGTA) but can’t fork over the emails to Judicial Watch, a nonprofit group suing to get the emails. Why? Because the IRS is busy making sure that none of the emails are duplicates – you know, so as not to waste anyone’s time.”
However, as the article goes on to point out, the TIGTA office that recovered the Lerner emails has already checked to make sure there are no duplicates of what’s already been submitted to the court — that checking done by special software used for just such a purpose.
On top of the rechecking by the agency to make sure the deduplication has been accomplished, the IRS is saying the extra effort may mean the service could be so slowed down that it will miss a critical deadline for completing the crucial task of providing the Lerner emails — a task that has gone on for years.
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“Judicial Watch isn’t buying it,” Howley asserts. The group’s president, Tom Fitton, told The Daily Caller in an exclusive statement that he’s not giving up:
Even though TIGTA already identified and removed emails that are duplicates, the IRS is in ‘the process of conducting further manual deduplication of the 6,400′ emails, rather than reviewing them in response to Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests that are more than 2 years old now,” Fitton said. “Our legal team will continue pursuing all necessary and available legal options to hold the IRS accountable for its flagrant abuse of power.
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