(CNSNews.com) - "I said I would provide all the emails. We are providing all the emails. The fact that three years ago, some of them -- not all of them, but some of them -- were not available, I never said I would provide you emails we didn't have," IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told a Monday evening hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Frustrated Republicans and apologetic Democrats questioned Koskinen about Lois Lerner's vanished emails for several hours, beginning with Committee Chair Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who asked Koskinen if he knew those critical emails were missing when he testified before Issa's committee on March 26 -- but said nothing at the time about problems cropping up.
"I knew that I'd been told there was an issue that no one knew the ramifications of," Koskinen replied. But on March 26, Koskinen had "no basis" for knowing that even one of Lerner's emails had disappeared, he testified Monday night.
"Somebody said there's an odd development in the way the emails are showing up. We're going to pull all of her emails and investigate it. The first time I knew that emails had been lost from her account was in April."
(Later in the hearing, Koskinen was unable to remember when in April -- beginning, middle or end -- he was told that some of Lerner's emails were missing. Nor could he remember who told him, he testified.)
After learning in April that Lerner's emails to outside agencies, covering the key 2009-2011 period when conservative groups were inappropriately scrutinized, had been lost in a hard-drive crash, Koskinen told Issa, "I didn't tell anybody" about it. "I had no one I was going to tell," he said.
"Did you cause someone to find out at the White House and Treasury or your IG (inspector-general)?" Issa asked.
"I did not. If you have any evidence of that, I'd be happy to see it," Koskinen said.
"I asked a question!" Issa snapped.
"And I answered it!" Koskinen snapped back.
"So you told us that all emails would be provided," Issa said. "When you discovered that all emails would not be provided, you did not come back and inform us, is that correct?"
"All the emails we have will be provided," Koskinen insisted. "I did not say I would provide you emails that disappeared. If you have a magical way for me to do that, I'd be happy to know about it. I said I would provide all the emails. We are providing all the emails. The fact that three years ago, some of them, not all of them, but some of them were not available, I never said I would provide you emails we didn't have -- and in fact, we are going to provide you 24,000 emails from the time that ---
"My time has expired, and I've lost my patience with you," a disgusted Issa interrupted.
The House Ways and Means Committee, which also is looking into the IRS targeting of conservative groups, said last week that the Treasury Department and Obama White House learned about Lois Lerner's missing emails in April, six weeks before Congress found out in June.
Koskinen told the Ways and Means Committee last week it is his "understanding" that someone in the IRS general counsel's office informed someone in the Treasury Department's general counsel office "that there was an issue and the IRS was investigating."
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