Ex-IRS official Lois Lerner’s crashed hard drive has been recycled, making it likely the lost emails of the lightening rod in the tea party targeting controversy will never be found, according to multiple sources.
“We’ve been informed that the hard drive has been thrown away,” Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the top Republican on the Finance Committee, said in a brief hallway interview.
Two additional sources told POLITICO the same late Wednesday, citing IRS officials.
It may just be standard government procedure, but the revelation is significant because some lawmakers and observers thought there was a way that tech experts could revive Lerner’s emails after they were washed away in a computer crash in the summer of 2011. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), for example, subpoenaed her damaged hard drive earlier this week, when he asked for “all hard drives, external drives, thumb drives and computers” and “all electronic communication devices the IRS issued to Lois G. Lerner.”
“IT experts have weighed in and said yes — we can get those” emails, said Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) earlier Wednesday.
The latest news suggests such professionals may never get the chance to try again — and the IRS has even said its criminal investigators who specialize in rebuilding hard drives to recover hidden information from criminals were unable to restore the data back in 2011. But this is only likely to further enrage Republicans, who are fuming over the matter and suspect Washington officials drove the selective scrutiny.
Issa’s office issued a statement tonight saying, “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.”
Best Tweet response to this news I’ve seen so far:
BREAKING: the IRS has recycled the hard drive containing Lois Lerner’s emails and turned it into a presidential golf club. – @Gunservatively
You can choose to laugh, cry, mock, or scream at the depth of corruption on display here. For the moment, I choose mockery.
There will be hearings on this issue Friday and Monday where IRS Commissioner John Koskinen will testify. Stay tuned.