Federal Court Orders IRS to Produce Newly Recovered Lois Lerner Emails, IRS Fails to Meet Court Deadline
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton announced today that Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the IRS last week to begin producing, every Monday, nearly 1,800 newly recovered Lois Lerner emails. Judge Sullivan ruled on the matter from the bench during a status conference on July 1, 2015. Despite the court order, the IRS failed to produce any Lois Lerner emails yesterday. The IRS also failed to provide Judicial Watch a status of the Lois Lerner email production issues, as also ordered by Judge Sullivan.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recovered the emails from IRS back-up tapes. TIGTA was able to locate the Lois Lerner back-up tapes within one day of requesting them from the IRS.
A report released today by TIGTA on the Lois Lerner email controversy confirms that the IRS failure to timely search its back-up tapes resulted in 24,000 Lois Lerner emails being destroyed. The TIGTA report also confirms that IRS Commissioner John Koskinen delayed informing Congress (and the courts) for months about Lois Lerner’s email issue. (Judge Sullivan ordered the IRS to produce the TIGTA report to chambers the next day for in camera review at the July 1 hearing.)
The TIGTA report details that the Treasury Department also knew about the Lerner email problems for months but made no public disclosure. TIGTA discloses that other records remain missing, including potentially over 300 IRS hard drives. The office of IRS Chief Counsel William J. Wilkins, an Obama political appointee, oversaw the mishandling of the Lois Lerner email issue.
“The IRS, working through the Justice Department, has violated an explicit federal court order to begin turning over Lois Lerner’s ‘lost’ emails,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The Obama IRS’ contempt for the courts and for Congress resulted in a massive destruction of evidence. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s and IRS Chief Counsel William J. Wilkins’ resignations are long overdue.”
The developments come in Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking documents about the Obama IRS’ targeting and harassment of Tea Party and conservative opponents of President Obama (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Internal Revenue Service (No. 1:13-cv-01559)). Judicial Watch’s litigation forced the IRS first to admit that Lerner’s emails were supposedly missing and, then, that the emails were on IRS back-up systems.
In November 2014, the IRS told the court it had failed to search any of the IRS standard computer systems for the “missing” emails of Lerner and other IRS officials.
On February 26, 2015, TIGTA officials testified to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that it had received 744 back-up tapes containing emails sent and received by Lerner. This testimony showed that the IRS had falsely declared to Congress, Judge Sullivan and Judicial Watch that Lerner’s emails were irretrievably lost.