Rep. Jim Jordan: 'At What Point Does It Become Obstruction of Justice?'
(CNSNews.com) - IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told Congress Monday night that he doesn't remember who told him in April that Lois Lerner's emails had disappeared; he "didn't do anything" when he leaned about it from whomever; and "no," he did not talk to anyone outside the IRS about the vanished emails -- not even the Justice Department.
"Here's what I'd like to know," Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told Koskinen at a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
"You waited two months to tell anyone. At what point does it become obstruction of justice? Three months? Four months? Two weeks?
"When you've got that kind of critical information, and you said, you know, I'm going to hang on to this. We gotta wait, make sure we can spin this better, whatever it was. The fact that you didn't tell us, and we've been after this for 13 months. We subpoenaed six months ago for this. We had a hearing on the 26th (March) where everyone on this dais went after you, said we want all the emails, and you assured us you'd get them all to us.
"And then you learn you can't? And you don't tell anybody? And you give us a report...and on page 9 of some report -- oh by the way, we lost the emails."
"No it starts on page 5," Koskinen corrected Jordan. "It's half of the 7-page--"
"Page 5!" Jordan exclaimed. "I'd like for you to tell us, not send us some 37-page document on page 5 on a Friday afternoon..."
"It's a 7-page document," Koskinen corrected Jordan again.
"Seven-page document, on page 5. This is ridiculous, Mr. Chairman, that we did not know this when he first knew. And that he almost knew everything on the 26th and wouldn't tell us..."
Koskinen testified that he learned there was a problem with Lois Lerner's emails in February; and someone -- he says he doesn't remember who -- told him in April that an untold number of Lois Lerner's emails had disappeared.
Officials at the Treasury Department and the White House also learned about the Lerner's vanished emails in April -- but Koskinen says he has no idea who at the IRS told them about it.
Koskinen waited until June 13 to tell Congress -- in that seven-page report.
Under questioning by Jordan, Koskinen said he did not tell his agency's own inspector general about the emails when he found out they were missing; nor did he tell the Justice Department, even though the House Ways and Means Committee has referred Lerner for criminal prosecution.
"Why not?" Jordan asked. There's a criminal investigation going on. Don't you think that's a pertinent fact that they'd like to know?
"We have no evidence that there's any criminal violation involved," Koskinen said.
"I didn't ask you that. There's a criminal investigation-- the President of the United States said on May 15, we've got to get to the bottom of this. The Attorney General said we're going to do everything we can to find out what happened here. And you have information -- you still haven't talked to the FBI at all?"
"I have never talked to the FBI about it," Koskinen agreed.
Jordan also pressed Koskinen on exactly when in April he learned that Lerner's emails had vanished because her computer's hard drive crashed.
"The Chairman (Rep. Darrell Issa) asked you, who told you this information. You can't remember?"
"No I do not remember," Koskinen said.
"Was it -- did someone tell you in person, did they send you an email? How did you get the information?"
"I don't recall," Koskinen repeated. "I did not get emails on these subjects, so I'm sure it was someone in person."
"Someone in person -- this has been a major news story for the last 13 months. And you don't remember who came up to you and said, 'Hey boss, we lost Lois Lerner's emails.' You don't even remember anything about that situation?" Jordan asked.
"I remember being told in April."
"But you don't remember who told you?"
"I do not recall who told me, no--"
"Something that's been a front-page story where you would think it would be significant enough to remember how it happened, when they told you what the actual date was -- you might even remember where you were actually standing---"
"Remember, I'm running an agency with 90,000 people...we're in the middle of filing season," Koskinen said.