Spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Wednesday that in response to a request from the House Ways and Means Committee, "We did in fact do a search for all communications between Lois Lerner and any person within the Executive Office of the President (EOP) for this period.
"We found zero emails, sorry to disappoint, between Lois Lerner and anyone within the EOP during this period. We found three emails where a third party emailed both Lois Lerner and officials within the EOP. One was a spam email, and two others were from a person seeking tax assistance. Each of these emails has been produced to Congress."
As CNSNews.com reported, Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, asked President Obama to provide his committee with "all communications" -- not just emails -- between Lois Lerner and "any persons within the Executive Office of President for the period between January 1, 2009 and May 1, 2011."
What happened Lerner's emails? a Fox News reporter asked Carney on Wednesday.
"Ed, I would refer you to the IRS, and they've answered this question. They -- you know, they can answer it again," Carney told Ed Henry.
The IRS informed Congress only last Friday that emails to and from Lerner were gone because of a computer crash.
The missing emails -- an unknown number -- include Lerner's communications with other federal agencies.
"Will the White House pledge at least to guarantee that you will work to find them?" Fox News's Ed Henry asked Carney.
"As the IRS has said, Ed, they are producing 67,000 emails sent or received from Lois Lerner. This is part of their production of 750,000 pages of documents to Congress. As the IRS said, IT professionals worked to restore Lerner's hard drive but were unable to do so. Nonetheless, the IRS has or will produce 24,000 Lerner emails from this 2009-2011 time period, largely from the files of the other 82 individuals.
"So I think that answers your question that they are engaging in an effort to find emails in the absence of being able to restore the hard drive."
But later on Wednesday, Politico reported that Lois Lerner's crashed hard drive -- now the subject of a congressional subpoena -- was recycled in 2011, in line with IRS protocol.
"A bad hard drive, like other broken Information Technology equipment, is sent to a recycler as part of our regular process,” an IRS spokesman told Politico.
“We’ve been informed that the hard drive has been thrown away,” Politico quoted Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) as saying.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee believed that IT experts would be able to get the missing emails off the crashed hard drive.
"We believe these e-mails could be found, unless, in fact, the IRS and Lois Lerner have made sure they can't be found," Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa told Fox and Friends early Wednesday morning.
"We expect that forensics will get them. Right now, we've subpoenaed the hard drive in question. We've been falsely told that the IG has them. He has indicated what he has is the latest computer, not the disk drive that supposedly failed."
Issa said congressional investigators are "tired" of being lied to.
"In this case, the American people clearly were targeted for their belief and their free speech by a president and an IRS who disagreed with a Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United. That's at the core of all this."
Issa said the emails already received by the committee show that the IRS tax-exempt office, which Lerner headed, was trying to overturn the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision by targeting conservative groups, "because they don't like what conservatives say."
"If Lois Lerner's the kingpin, so be it. But if we can't see her connections in her e-mails fully, we won't know all of the people who worked with her to target unfairly Americans for what they believe, what they say and who they want to associate with."
The IRS has apologized for inappropriately scrutinizing conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status before the 2012 elections. The extra scrutiny unduly delayed decisions on tax-exemption.
Issa Subpoenas Lois Lerner’s IRS Computer Hard Drive
Congress to Obama: Send Us 'All Communications' Between Your Office and Lois Lerner
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Flashback: Koskinen Has Hard Time Saying If IRS Will Hand Over All Lerner's Emails