IRS Lost Emails Claim a 'Stonewalling Tactic'
Republicans in Congress aren't taking "no" for an answer in the IRS Tea Party targeting scandal.
House Republicans are stepping up their probe into the IRS scandal after the tax agency said it lost more than two years of emails that are a key part of the investigation.
"I will not tolerate your continued obstruction and game-playing in response to the committee's investigation," House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrel Issa told IRS Commissioner John Koskinen,
The IRS commissioner said he will testify before two committee hearings about the lost emails next week.
Meanwhile, the IRS said it has lost still more emails connected to the investigation into the Tea Party scandal. The tax agency said last Friday it lost emails from former IRS official Lois Lerner, a key figure in the investigation in the targeting of conservative groups.
Now two congressional Republicans say the agency also lost emails from six more IRS employees, including the chief of staff for Lerner's boss.
The IRS said it can't locate most of Lerners emails before 2011 because her computer crashed that summer. Lerner retired last fall after being placed on administrative leave following her refusal to testify at a congressional hearing.
The loss of the emails could prove a major setback for the Republican investigation into the Tea Party targeting scandal.
"The fact that I am just learning about this over a year into the investigation is completely unacceptable and now calls into question the credibility of the IRS's response to congressional inquiries," House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., said.
"There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by the Department of Justice, as well as the inspector general," he said.
In May, the House voted to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress, which was turned over to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.
The IRS claims it has tried to find the lost emails, but critics and hi-tech experts say it's hard to lose emails because so many backups are built into computer systems.
The American Center for Law and Justice, which is representing 41 organizations in a lawsuit against the IRS, agreed, calling the agency's claim an "egregious stonewalling tactic."
"This latest assertion defies logic, makes absolutely no sense, and represents an incredible insult to members of Congress and the American people who demand accountability in an illegal targeting scheme that gets worse with each passing week," ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow charged.
The ACLJ is now exploring legal options on how to obtain the emails from other sources.