(CNSNews.com) - Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) on Wednesday called out the IRS on holding back information regarding lost emails from former IRS official Lois Lerner, telling the IRS Commissioner John Koskinen at a House Subcommittee for Economic Growth, Job Creation, and Regulatory Affairs on Capitol Hill, “You guys were never going to tell us until we caught you.”
At the hearing titled, “An Update on the IRS Response to its Targeting Scandal,” Jordan explained the timeline of events in the ongoing IRS investigation, citing how Koskinen knew about the missing emails in April yet waited until June 13, 2014 to bury the information in a report released on a Friday.
“My theory is this, Mr. Koskinen, you guys were never going to tell us until we caught you,” Jordan said.
Jordan explained that the committee first “caught” the IRS after a series of events which started with Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the IRS.
Judicial Watch found that there was a collaboration going on between the Justice Department (DOJ) and the IRS, namely that Lerner had communicated with the DOJ about “whether it was possible to criminally prosecute certain tax-exempt entities.”
The Oversight Committee then interviewed Richard Pilger, director of DOJ’s Election Crimes branch, who told the Committee that he had met with Lerner in 2010.
The committee subpoenaed the Justice Department for documents, which they complied with. Jordan confirmed in his questioning that the DOJ then gave the committee the email showing that the IRS and DOJ were working together.
“We contact you [Koskinen] and say, why didn’t you give it to us?” Jordan said. “And then you knew you were caught and you said – you didn’t tell us this, but you knew, we didn’t give it to you ‘cause we don’t got it. Now we have to tell the whole world, we lost them. And what better time to do it than Friday, June 13, saying we’re complying with some Senate concern, send in a letter, put it on page 7 of the third addendum and say, you know what, we may have a problem with Lois Lerner emails. That’s what I think,” Jordan said.
“I think all kinds of people going logically through this would say, you know what, that’s what prompted these guys – four days after they get a letter from this committee saying, ‘Why didn’t you send us these emails?’ You decide, well we better come clean. Plus, you’ve already told us you knew back in April that you lost them, so you wait two months and decide, wow, we better do it June 13th – just four days after [the Oversight Committee] figured out Justice and the IRS were working together in 2010, and they got an email that indicates that, and we can’t produce it,” Jordan said.
Koskinen disregarded the claim, saying that there were people who worked on the report who could confirm that the report was being worked on for a long period of time. Yet, Koskinen failed to name any names of people that the committee could investigate and interview.
“When you find any direct evidence to support that assertion, I’d be happy to see it,” Koskinen said. “If you think that this organization in four days could produce that report, you don’t understand how large organizations function. You could ask anybody who worked on that report. There’s a whole series of people. That report was under production for a long time.”
“One thing I’ve learned in these investigations, it’s always important to look at the timeline,” Jordan said. “Look at the timeline. You knew in April. You didn’t tell us until June 13. What events happened between April when you knew, and June 13?
“One key event was the FOIA request from Judicial Watch finding this collaboration between the IRS and the Justice Department, us getting that email because we subpoena the Justice Department. They give it to us. It’s in the relevant time frame - 2010 to 2012 - when you lost Lois Lerner emails, and suddenly, you say you know what – they got us. We have to come clean and then you do the letter on June 13,” Jordan said.
“Mr. Chairman, can I respond?” Koskinen asked. “That’s a fairly serious charge. There are a whole series of senior staff people on the Senate Finance Committee who will dispute your assertion, and if you find any direct evidence to this of anybody who worked on that report in terms of the timing of it, the fact that we were otherwise not going to deliver it, I will not only be surprised, I’ll be astounded, ‘cause there is no such evidence.
“And it seems to me, I’ve been very patient about all of this, but before you make that kind of charge and claim, you ought to have better evidence than a single email dated June 9th,” said Koskinen.
Jordan questioned Koskinen saying, “Well are you willing to make those witnesses available or are you going to make us subpoena them?”
“You’ve already talked to some of them, and you have others on your schedule,” Koskinen said.
Wednesday’s hearing comes after a long investigation of the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups and their applications for tax-exempt status. Before she resigned from the IRS in September 2013, Lerner was the director of the Exempt Organizations Unit. When called to testify twice before Congress about the IRS scandal, Lerner pleaded the 5th Amendment against self-incrimination.
Since May 2013, House investigations have requested testimony and documents on communications from Lerner and other IRS officials.