A federal judge has given the IRS one month to explain under oath how emails of Lois Lerner and six other top IRS officials disappeared. The judge also appointed a federal magistrate to determine whether the lost emails can be salvaged from other sources.
The court order came at the same time emails were released to show that Lerner warned IRS employees to be “cautious” about the content of their emails. In an April 2013 email, Lerner wrote to another IRS official, “I was cautioning folks about email and how we have had several occasions where Congress has asked for emails and there has been an electronic search for responsive emails—so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails,”
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said, “[This is] a smoking gun, this is Lois Lerner clearly cautioning people not to say things on email and be delighted to find out that the local instant chat they have, this Microsoft product, wasn’t tracking what they said,
“[She] was trying to make sure that on April 9 of 2013 that … her people weren’t being tracked and she was still using words like ‘caution.’ Why? She didn’t want an audit trail, … what they were doing was targeting conservatives for their views, no question at all.”
Judicial Watch brought the suit against the IRS for the explanation of the missing emails. The judge ordered that the IRS declaration be written, signed, and under oath by August 10.
The appointed magistrate will oversee the searching of backup computer tapes for evidence of the emails. Other reports say that Lerner had printed some of the missing emails. According to Lerner’s attorney said, “During her tenure as Director of Exempt Organizations, she did print out some emails, although not every one of the thousands she sent and received.”
Dan Epstein, executive director of Cause of Action, said, “It’s very clear that this is obstruction of Congress. The IRS on June 3, 2011 became on notice that there was a congressional investigation, which automatically means that there is a duty to preserve documents.” After the IRS provides the sworn affidavit, it will be clear whether that duty was breached.