DOJ Says It Will Investigate IRS's Delay in Notifying Justice of Missing Emails

By Melanie Arter | July 17, 2014 | 2:36 PM EDT

Deputy Attorney General James Cole (AP Photo)

( – Deputy Attorney General James Cole told a House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee Wednesday that the Justice Department will investigate the Internal Revenue Service’s delay in notifying the department and Congress about the missing emails of former IRS official Lois Lerner.

During the hearing on the IRS scandal, Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) asked Cole: "So, you said earlier that relative to Mr. Koskinen, it depends on whether there is a problem with the fact that the commissioner at the IRS knew in April, and waited two months to tell us, the American people, and more importantly, you. So you are going to investigate that aspect as well, as you would for a private citizen?

“All the issues related to those emails will be wrapped up in the investigation that we do,” Cole responded.

“Including the delay?” Jordan asked.

“Including the delay,” Cole replied.

“So the delay, the fact that the commissioner at the Internal Revenue Service delayed telling the Congress, the American people, the FBI, and the Justice Department, is a matter that you are going to investigate?” asked Jordan.

“We’re going to look into what the circumstances were around it, yes,” said Cole.

Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) said everyone on the full committee wanted to know what happened to the missing emails, and he expressed skepticism about claims that the emails could not be recovered.

“I think I speak on behalf of the full committee that we all really want to know what happened to those missing emails – all of us. Now we all are somewhat skeptical that they can’t be recovered in some fashion – all of us,” said Cartwright.

“We urge you to do your utmost and urge your colleagues to find those missing e-mails, because when there are e-mails missing, it makes people suspicious, and then it leads to unfounded charges and reckless allegations, and this is an arena where reckless allegations find a home,” he said.

“So I think it would make a lot of sense to redouble your efforts to find those e-mails,” Cartwright added.

Earlier in the hearing, Cole told Rep. Ron DeSantis (R.-Fla.) that the Department of Justice had not learned about Lois Lerner's missing emails until it was reported in the press.

DeSantis asked: "Mr. Cole, we learned in Congress on June 13, 2014, that two years-worth of Lois Lerner’s emails were missing--the IRS would not produce those. When did the Justice Department learn of that fact?”

Cole responded: “I think we learned about it after that from the press accounts that were in the paper following the IRS’ notification to the Congress.”