IRS Admits it Has Not Looked for Lerner’s Missing E-Mails on IRS Computer Servers

Ali Meyer | November 6, 2014 | 4:40pm EST
Font Size

Then-IRS official Lois Lerner is sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 22, 2013, before the House Oversight Committee hearing. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

( -- Internal Revenue Service (IRS) attorneys have admitted in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that the IRS failed to search any of its standard computer systems for Lois Lerner’s missing emails, according to the government watchdog group Judicial Watch.

Lerner was the director of the Exempt Organizations Unit at the IRS, responsible for reviewing the tax exemption applications of Tea Party and conservative groups. Many of those applications were delayed for years, allegedly in an effort to prevent those groups from participating fully in the 2010 and 2012 elections. Documents, including emails, have been sought by congressional investigators since May 2013.

In June 2014, the IRS disclosed to Congress that Lerner’s computer had apparently crashed and her emails from January 2009 to April 2011 were lost. Then in August, a Justice Department attorney admitted that the federal government maintains a back-up system for all computer records and the emails potentially could be recovered.

The latest revelations about the IRS not even looking for Lerner’s emails on IRS computer systems came about because of Judicial Watch’s lawsuit to force testimony and document production from the agency regarding the “lost and/or destroyed” records on the targeting of Tea Party  groups.

Computer hard drive. (AP)

According to Judicial Watch, in its opposition to the lawsuit the IRS claimed that it failed to search the computer servers for missing emails for three reasons: The IRS claimed that “the servers would not result in the recovery of any information”; they did not search them because they had “no reason to believe that the tapes are a potential source of recovering” the missing emails; and they hadn’t searched because they had “no reason to believe such a system even exists.”

According to Judicial Watch, the IRS admitted that the agency failed to “submit declarations about any of the foregoing items because it had no reason to believe that they were sources from which to recover information lost as a result of Lerner’s hard drive failure.”

“Department of Justice attorneys for the IRS had previously told Judicial Watch that Lois Lerner’s emails, indeed all government computer records, are backed up by the federal government in case of a government-wide catastrophe. The Obama administration attorneys said that this back-up system would be too onerous to search,” explains Judicial Watch.

A Tea Party protester in 2011. (AP File Photo)

“Incredibly, the IRS has not searched any of the IRS’s regular computer systems for any missing records and admits that is has only searched a ‘database’ that it knows does not contain the missing records being sought by court, Judicial Watch, and Congress,” said the government watchdog group.

“The Obama IRS couldn’t care less about the federal court’s orders to provide full information about the ‘missing’ Lois Lerner emails,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Instead, the IRS, with the help of a compromised Justice Department, has engaged in a series of transparently evasive distractions. The IRS would have Judicial Watch wait for years before we can ask questions about the cover-up that is going on now.”

“The IRS thinks it can game a federal court, Congress, and the American people,” said Fitton. “Having delayed accountability for over two years, the Obama administration is prepared to stonewall on the IRS targeting of Obama’s ‘enemies list’ until after the 2016 presidential election. Judicial Watch’s lawsuit can continue to break through this obstruction of justice, especially if the court approves our effort to put select Obama officials under oath.” contacted the IRS, asking for a response to Judicial Watch’s findings about their admission on not searching for emails.

In an email to, the agency said, “As the IRS has said before, it continues to cooperate with the investigations and legal actions underway. Suggestions to the contrary are inaccurate and misleading. Beyond this, as this matter is in litigation, the IRS defers to its court filings.”

Lerner resigned from the IRS in September 2013. When called to testify twice before Congress about the IRS-Tea Party 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.

mrc merch