House Republicans Grill IRS Head on How Exactly E-mails Linked to Tea Party Scandal Could Go AWOL
A defiant head of the IRS refused to be contrite amid a barrage of questions lobbied at him on Friday by House Republicans angry that that e-mails, linked to a Tea Party scandal, went AWOL.
At one point, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen seemed incensed that he was being painted as a liar.
“I have a long career. That’s the first time anybody has said they do not believe me,” Koskinen, who had previously served under both Bush and Clinton, said in response to the 7-hour grilling.
Yet, Rep. Paul Ryan continued on, demanding outright on more than one occasion that the IRS head was not telling the truth and there was more to the story.
“I am sitting here listening to this testimony. I just, I don’t believe it,” said Ryan. “That’s your problem. Nobody believes you.”
The contentious debate was sparked by the admission by the IRS that it had lost a number of e-mails sent by Lois Lerner, who was the head of the division that processed non-profit statuses and tax exemptions. Under her leadership, agents have been accused of being unfairly biased against conservative and Tea Party groups.
Republicans now suspect those lost e-mails contained sensitive information that would damage the Obama IRS and maybe even the White House.
According to Koskinen’s testimony, however, the loss of the e-mails was not a deliberate act. Lerner’s hard drive had crashed and as a result, many e-mails can simply not be retrieved, despite the fact at the time of the crash the agency went to every effort possible to get the e-mails back even using the agency’s forensic technology gurus.
Rep. Dave Camp, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, clearly was not impressed, however, that Koskinen stood his ground and refused to admit further wrongdoing.
“What I didn’t hear in that was an apology to this committee,” Camp said after Koskinen’s opening remarks blaming a hard drive crash, not a scandal for the deleted e-mails.
“I don’t think an apology is owed,” Koskinen replied, adding that further investigation into the matter would be a “monumental waste of taxpayer funds.”
Later, White House spokesman Josh Earnest agreed.“I’m not sure that there’s a whole lot more to be discovered here,” Earnest said in response to a call from House Republicans to look further into why the e-mails got lost and how those e-mails could be linked to Obama.
Photo Credit: Official Portrait (Koskinen)