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IRS experts: Lois Lerner hard drive was just ‘scratched’ — not damaged beyond recovery

Lois Lerner IRSby Byron York

Top IRS officials told congressional investigators that Lois Lerner’s hard drive — the one containing emails that could shed light on the IRS targeting scandal — was irreparably damaged before it was destroyed completely in 2011. But now, investigators have had a chance to talk to the technical experts inside the IRS who actually examined Lerner’s computer, and the experts say the hard drive in question was actually just “scratched,” and that most of the data on it was recoverable.

The IRS computer experts also told the committee that they had recommended seeking outside help in recovering the data from Lerner’s computer — something IRS management declined to do. [Read more...]

Courts Should End Lerner’s Illegal Instant Message Trick

IRS scandal_lost emails_lois lernerby Phil Kerpen

It was so brazen. Right there, over email, Lois Lerner warned her colleagues “Congress has asked for emails… so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails.” Then she asked whether the IRS’s instant messaging application was being archived, and was told that – contrary to law – archiving had been disabled. She responded: “Perfect.”

Specifically, IRS staffer Maria Hooke told Lerner “messages are not set to automatically save as the standard; however the functionality exists within the software.” [Read more...]

Whistleblowers at Veterans Benefits Administration report instances of retaliation

POW_veterans affairs_VA scandal_by Ellison Barber

Whistleblowers from regional offices of the Veterans Benefits Administration testified before the House Veteran Affairs Committee on Monday night that the agency has been tampering with documents, manipulating records, and retaliating against employees who report problems.

Kristen Ruell, a whistleblower from a VBA regional office in Philadelphia, Pa., told the committee she received an email from an employee in triage, the location where mail is processed, telling her that clerks were setting aside incoming forms when they were not easily identifiable. [Read more...]

More “smidgens” of IRS corruption

Hen House IRS DOJ Scandal Corruptionby Ed Rogers 

Anyone paying attention to the Internal Revenue Service scandal has been waiting for the next smidgen to drop. Well, two more hit pretty hard this week. At the president’s next encounter with the media, I will scream collusion if no one asks him for his exact definition of a “smidgen,” and if he thinks he has seen a smidgen of corruption yet. At this point, only the most gullible or culpable can continue to claim there is no compelling evidence in this case. Given the delays, lies and stonewalling, there is no viable argument against a special prosecutor.

In a stunning revelation this week, it was disclosed that former IRS official Lois Lerner told colleagues, “we need to be cautious about what we say in emails” and then proceeded to ask the IRS IT department, in an e-mail, “if [instant messaging] conversations were also searchable.” When she was told they were not, she e-mailed back, “Perfect.” This is a smoking gun e-mail in that it makes plain she had a cover-up in mind. There is no other plausible explanation. [Read more...]

Obama Hasn’t Hit Rock Bottom Yet

obama_frownby Alex Castellanos

Ordinarily, being ranked as the worst modern president of the United States would be considered unfortunate. For you Mr. President, that’s the good news.

As painful as it is to note, your presidency has not yet hit bottom. You’ve got a long way to go in your descent.

Everywhere you walk, Mr. President, the world unravels. Americans are whispering that each political missile you fire seems to hit not its target but our own house.

You have undone the core idea you’ve advanced, that a larger public sector can save us. You are becoming the one-man Keystone Cops of an experiment in weakness and incompetent government. [Read more...]

IRS Knew Lerner Emails Were Missing For Months

IRS scandal_lost emails_lois lernerby Patrick Howley

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) knew for months that Lois Lerner’s emails had been destroyed, even before the current IRS commissioner testified that his agency would produce all of them.

The IRS knew as early as February 2014 that Lerner’s emails were missing, top lawmakers on the House Committee on Ways and Means confirmed Tuesday. The IRS had this knowledge nearly three months before IRS commissioner John Koskinen agreed at a hearing to turn over all of Lerner’s emails to the committee.

Additionally, the IRS failed to deliver emails from six other IRS employees at the heart of the IRS targeting scandal including former IRS official and frequent White House visitor Nikole Flax, according to the Ways and Means Committee. [Read more...]

Lost Lerner Emails Mirror Nixon’s 18 1/2 Minute Gap

IRS scandal_lost emails_lois lerner

The IRS descends into criminal enterprise, with word of a 26-month gap of lost emails from the very period it was illegally targeting Tea Party groups. Computer crash? Try obstruction of justice.

Just as the claim that President Nixon’s secretary, Rose Mary Woods, inadvertently hit the “erase” button instead of “pause” gave impetus to the drive to impeach Nixon, so too should the IRS announcement that it can’t find two years of Lois Lerner’s emails lead to a criminal investigation of this administration and creation of a select committee. [Read more...]

Lois Lerner on IRS hard drive crash: ‘Sometimes stuff just happens’

IRS scandal_lost emails_lois lernerby Stephen Dinan

Lois G. Lerner, the employee at the center of the IRS tea party targeting scandal, wanted to recover files from her computer hard drive after it crashed in 2011, but when told it was impossible, she took a philosophical view.

“Sometimes stuff just happens,” she said in a 2011 email to the IRS tech staff that tried to recover documents from the hard drive.

As it tries to respond to congressional inquiries about Ms. Lerner and the tea party scandal, the IRS has recently found itself on the defensive after admitting — more than a year into the investigations — that some of Ms. Lerner’s emails are irretrievably lost in the wake of the hard drive crash. [Read more...]

IRS Has Lost More Emails

149872_600by Eliana Johnson

It’s not just Lois Lerner’s e-mails. The Internal Revenue Service says it can’t produce e-mails from six more employees involved in the targeting of conservative groups, according to two Republicans investigating the scandal.

The IRS recently informed Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp and subcommittee chairman Charles Boustany that computer crashes resulted in additional lost e-mails, including from Nikole Flax, the chief of staff to former IRS commissioner Steven Miller, who was fired in the wake of the targeting scandal. [Read more...]

Did The IRS Really Lose Lois Lerner’s Emails? Let a Special Prosecutor Find Them

IRS SCANDALObama needs to address this ‘phony scandal’ and the public trust with real transparency.

by Ron Fournier

A sloppy mistake, the government calls it, but you couldn’t blame a person for suspecting a cover-up — the loss of an untold number of emails to and from the central figure in the IRS tea party controversy. And, because the public’s trust is a fragile gift that the White House has frittered away in a series of second-term missteps, President Obama needs to act.

If the IRS can’t find the emails, maybe a special prosecutor can. [Read more...]

IRS Claims It Has Lost Two Years Worth of Emails

The dog ate Lois Lerner’s homework (and emails). If the IRS say it, it must be true.

Lois Lerner IRSby David Martosko

The Internal Revenue Service has lost two years worth of emails to and from embattled former tax official Lois Lerner, the agency told congressional investigators on Friday.

The IRS promised on May 8 to turn over all her emails but now blames a computer crash for huge tranches of missing documents.

Lerner is under investigation for allegedly orchestrating a years-long program that targeted tea party groups and other conservative organizations for unusually intrusive scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status beginning in the year before the 2010 congressional midterm elections. [Read more...]

The Emerging Junta

The IRS’s illegal actions — and its efforts at cover-up — undermine the foundations of our government.

IRS Scandal Lawlessness

by Kevin D. Williamson

I will confess to a little despair over the relatively mild reception that has greeted the evidence, now conclusive and irrefutable, that the Internal Revenue Service, under the direction of senior leaders affiliated with the Democratic party, was used as a political weapon from at least 2010 through the 2012 election. It may be that the American public simply does not care about the issue; it is always difficult, if not impossible, to predict what issues will seize the electorate’s attention, or to understand why after the fact. It may be that the public does not understand the issue, in which case a brief explanation of the known facts may be of some use.

Here is what happened. In the run-up to the 2012 election, senior IRS executives including Lois Lerner, then the head of the IRS branch that oversees the activities of tax-exempt nonprofit groups, began singling out conservative-leaning organizations for extra attention, invasive investigations, and legal harassment. The IRS did not target groups that they believed might be violating the rules governing tax-exempt organizations; rather, as e-mails from the agency document, the IRS targeted these conservative groups categorically, regardless of whether there was any evidence that they were not in compliance with the relevant regulations. Simply having the words “tea party,” “patriot,” or “9/12” (a reference to one of Glenn Beck’s many channels of activism) in the name was enough. Also targeted were groups dedicated to issues such as taxes, spending, debt, and, perhaps most worrisome, those that were simply “critical of the how the country is being run.” Organizations also were targeted based on the identity of their donors. Their applications were delayed, their managements harassed, and the IRS demanded that they answer wildly inappropriate questions, such as the content of their prayers. [Read more...]

No, The Benghazi Questions Aren’t All Answered

Why the House continues to investigate.

Benghazi Story Chaningby Jim Geraghty

NBC News’s Chuck Todd, speaking on MSNBC Tuesday morning, contended that the newly formed House select committee investigating Benghazi was likely to rehash familiar arguments and miss broader issues worth discussing:

It certainly looks more partisan than it looks like a serious inquiry. They’ve done a ton of these inquiries already, the House has. There’s been a Senate Intelligence investigation. Forget just the State Department. I think you could argue that yes, Congress should have done what it did, which is go through some of these committees. But as for the need for the select committee — you know, I’ll hear from Republicans that say, ‘But there are unanswered questions!’ Well, no, all the questions have been answered. There’s just some people that don’t like the answers, that wish the answers were somehow more conspiratorial, I guess.

Their focus seems to be off. Have a conversation about the policy. Have a debate, an investigation into whether the policy is working; to whether the response to the Arab Spring, whether we did the right thing with the light footprint in Libya. But to sit here and investigate talking points seems to be totally missing the larger point here. It’s like investigating who cut down one tree in a forest that’s been burned down.”

Todd is half-right that there are broader issues worth examining. But there is good reason for Republicans to believe that full answers have been withheld, and Americans have seen little or no real accountability for a largely preventable outrage. [Read more...]

The Media Ignore IRS Scandal

obama-lois-lerner-fifth-amendment-IRSby Paul L. Caron

The timeline of the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups reveals nothing less than a scandal. It is a scandal that blew into public view a year ago this week and about which the press has been far from curious.

In 2009, the president of the United States commented in a commencement address that the IRS would soon be auditing the president of the university and the Board of Regents for refusing to grant him an honorary degree. Supporters of the president dismissed critics who worried that the “joke” was a “dog whistle” intended to declare open season on the president’s political opponents.

In January 2010, the president in his State of the Union Address publicly berated the six Supreme Court justices in attendance for their decision in Citizens United, which held that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations and labor unions. [Read more...]

The Left Has Become Benghazi Deniers

Benghazi Attackby Rich Lowry

At last, we have a Benghazi scandal that Democrats are willing to acknowledge — House Speaker John Boehner’s decision to form a select committee to investigate the administration’s handling of the 2012 terror attack in Libya.

This has been the occasion for outrage that Democrats haven’t been able to summon for any aspect of Benghazi to this point, including the lax security at the compound.

The Democrats and their allies are in denial. They think the Republican notion of a scandal is a complete hoax. Yes, a mistake was made here or there, but otherwise, nothing to see here. [Read more...]