White House Learned of Lerner's Crashed Hard Drive 6 Weeks Before Congress

June 20, 2014 - 9:08 AM

John Koskinen

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - In sworn testimony Friday, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen admitted that the IRS told the Obama administration about Lois Lerner's missing emails in April, six weeks before telling Congress, even though Congress had subpoenaed Lerner's emails as part of its investigation into the alleged muzzling of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status before the 2010 election.

"The IRS knew in February, or maybe even in March, and Treasury and the White House knew at least in April -- but Congress and the American people didn't find out until June. Were you purposely not telling us?" House Ways and Means Chair Dave Camp (R-Mich.) asked Koskinen. "Were you purposely not revealing this to the American people?"

"No, as I told you...our original thought was to complete the Lois Lerner email production--complete the review of what other custodians (IRS employees) had a problem, and produce a report to you, laying it all out," Koskinen said.

"So why did the IRS inform the Executive Branch agencies, the White House, the administration, but kept it secret from the Congress, who was conducting an investigation?" Camp asked.

"We were not keeping it a secret," Koskinen said. "It was our public report to you that has in fact provided you this information, there's been no attempt to keep it a secret. My position has been, when we provide information, we should provide it completely. If we provide you incomplete information, people sometimes are tempted to leap to the wrong conclusion, not based on any facts, so we thought it would be important to give you the full description--

"It's okay for the White House and Treasury to leap to a conclusion six weeks before the Congress," Camp shot back.

Camp also asked Koskinen if there had been any discussion within the IRS about when to tell Congress about Lerner's crashed hard drive and the missing emails, which were written during the critical 2009-2011 period of the investigation.

"Certainly," Koskinen said, but he added that those discussions did not include the Treasury Department.

"Well then how did Treasury find out about it?" an incredulous Camp asked.

Camp told the committee he received a letter from the White House two days ago, telling him that the Obama White House learned about the missing Lois Lerner emails in April and was informed by the Treasury Department.

Koskinen said he's also seen that letter. He said his "understanding" is 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."

"I have no communications with the White House," Koskinen said.

"You're the head of the IRS, Camp said. "You don't know something this important -- contacts between your agency and the Executive Branch? You're unaware of them?!" Camp asked.

"We are part of the Executive Branch, Koskinen said. "We have regular communications with Treasury..."

Also See:
Congress to Obama: Send Us 'All Communications' Between Your Office and Lois Lerner
WH on Lois Lerner's Vanished Emails: 'You've Never Heard of A Computer Crashing Before?'
IRS Apologizes for targeting tea party groups