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In lieu of her hard drive, the agency went to other agency employees and had them search their files for any emails they might have been included on along with Ms. Lerner.

That’s how they managed to recover the 24,000 emails from that time period.

Still, those are only IRS emails and wouldn’t include messages solely between Ms. Lerner and those in other departments or in Congress.

Previous emails did show Ms. Lerner had communicated with the Federal Election Commission about the tax status of some applicants.

In a letter Friday to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, House oversight committee Chairman Darrell Issa, who has issued a subpoena seeking IRS documents, said more than 1 million potentially responsive documents have yet to be produced.

“At this rate, the IRS‘ response to the committee’s subpoena will drag on for years,” Mr. Issa wrote.

He gave Mr. Koskinen until Wednesday to produce all of the documents still being withheld, and said if they aren’t turned over, his committee will look at ways to enforce the subpoena.

According to the agency, employees such as Ms. Lerner have some of their “active” emails stored on the IRS centralized network. The rest they can save in their email archive on their hard drive, but those are lost if the hard drive crashes.