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U.S. tax chief testifies in 'Tea Party' probe

Friday, June 20, 2014 - 01:28

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen faces tough questions on Capitol Hill over lost emails, as part of an investigation into the tax agency's scrutiny of politically conservative groups. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) The head of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service refused to apologize on Friday (June 20) for the loss of emails that Republican investigators want as part of a year-old inquiry into the tax agency's scrutiny of politically conservative groups. John Koskinen also said he would not support Republicans' demands for a special prosecutor to investigate the matter. The exchanges between Koskinen and Republicans were often heated. "Why should anyone believe you?" Republican Representative Kevin Brady of Texas asked Koskinen. "The IRS denied for two years the targeting of Americans based on their political beliefs, that wasn't the truth. They said it was a few rogue agencies in Cincinnati; that wasn't the truth. You said you were targeting liberal organizations; that wasn't the truth, and then you assured us you would provide us with all of the emails in May; and that wasn't the truth, and today, you're telling us out of thousands of IRS computers, the one that lost the emails was the person of interest in an on-going Congressional investigation." Koskinen said he would turn over any recovered emails to lawmakers. "Between my full testimony and my oral testimony and my response to the questions and I hope it's clear, we have not in this investigation lost any emails from the start of the investigation until now," Koskinen said. "I hope it is clear that by the end of this month we will have provided all of the Lois Lerner's emails that we have, that those would number 67,000." "It should be clear that in the period Ms. Lerner's hard drive crash, we have located 24,000 emails that Lois Lerner sent or received. It should be clear on the basis of the email track that Lois Lerner was not trying to destroy email, but in fact was working very hard and asked for extraordinary efforts to try to restore her emails at that time," he added. The investigation dates to May 2013, when former IRS official Lois Lerner unexpectedly apologized in public for what she called "inappropriate" scrutiny by the IRS of non-profit conservative groups, some aligned with the Tea Party. Republicans accused the IRS of unfairly singling out conservative groups' applications for tax-exempt status for extra review. In the controversy that followed, the acting chief of the IRS stepped down and Lerner later retired. The Republican-led inquiry last week returned to the headlines after the IRS said it had lost some emails by Lerner that had been requested by congressional investigators. The IRS said Lerner's computer crashed in mid-2011 and that some of her emails from January 2009 to April 2011 could not be recovered. Koskinen said years of IRS budget cuts were partly to blame for weak and outdated agency information technology systems.

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U.S. tax chief testifies in 'Tea Party' probe

Friday, June 20, 2014 - 01:28

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