U.S. Justice Department says investigating lost IRS emails

WASHINGTON Wed Jul 16, 2014 6:19pm EDT

A woman walks out of the Internal Revenue Service building in New York in this May 13, 2013 photo. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

A woman walks out of the Internal Revenue Service building in New York in this May 13, 2013 photo.

Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday confirmed it is investigating the loss of Internal Revenue Service emails being sought by congressional Republicans in an inquiry over tax scrutiny of conservative political groups.

In written testimony to be delivered to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the probe "includes investigating the circumstances of the lost emails" from the computer of Lois Lerner, a retired IRS official.

Republican lawmakers have asserted that Lerner, who had headed the IRS unit that oversaw tax-exempt organizations, was deliberately trying to hide information from Congress.

Last month, the IRS acknowledged losing some of Lerner's emails to a computer hard-drive failure, an incident that has rekindled Republican outrage in the long-running controversy over IRS targeting of conservative political groups.

A Justice Department official said there had been no determination of whether the probe was criminal in nature.

Cole did not provide any specifics of the probe.

"I do pledge to you that when our investigation is completed, we will provide Congress with detailed information about the facts we uncovered and the conclusions we reached in this matter," Cole said in his testimony, which is due to be delivered before the panel on Thursday.

Emily Pierce, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said the IRS probe was started immediately after Lerner publicly acknowledged potential misconduct in the IRS's targeting of conservative groups for extra scrutiny.

"It has been conducted with the utmost integrity ever since, and department officials have regularly characterized the investigation as a top priority," she said. 

(Reporting by Aruna Viswanatha and David Lawder; Editing by Peter Cooney and Eric Beech)

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Comments (7)
Loucleve wrote:
So, the fix is in, and they find no wrongdoing.

Jul 16, 2014 5:54pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
oldmax wrote:
should have had an independent investigation, yes the fix is in!!

Jul 16, 2014 7:00pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
JamVee wrote:
Reasonable and proper IT protocols, which are obviously not practiced by the IRS, are specifically designed to avoid loss of data to something so predictable as a hard drive failure. Whoever is in charge of IT for this, FAILED, department should be terminated for dereliction of duty, except for the fact that this story is nothing but a bald faced lie, trumped up to hide the truth from the American people.

Jul 16, 2014 7:06pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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