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Rep. Darrell Issa: IRS has done little for its reputation over last few days

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The House's top investigator said Tuesday the relationship between congressional Republicans and the IRS was "not improved" by agency Commissioner John Koskinen's "disappointing performance" late Monday, as members of Congress probe what happened to emails that could be key to their investigation of political targeting at the revenue agency.

Mr. Issa, California Republican and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, accused Mr. Koskinen of dragging his feet in informing his panel that two years' worth of emails had been lost from Lois Lerner's hard drive crashing in 2011.

Ms. Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the targeting probe, has been held in contempt by the full House.

"Her disk drive is missing," Mr. Issa said.

He kicked off a second day of hearings into the matter Tuesday by excoriating Mr. Koskinen and Ms. Lerner.

His committee invited Jennifer O'Connor, a member of the White House Office of Counsel, to shed light Tuesday on what's going on in the administration, and David S. Ferriero, archivist of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, who was brought in by the committee to talk about the proper preservation of government records.

The chairman said he was unimpressed by Mr. Koskinen's explanation late Monday of efforts to retrieve as many of Ms. Lerner's emails as possible.

The lost emails are denting the IRS's credibility, which has already suffered from the tea party scandal in which the agency targeted conservative groups for improper scrutiny, asking questions about their religious leanings and donors. The agency also wrongly blocked approval for some of those applications, in some cases for years.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, Maryland Democrat and ranking member of the oversight committee, suggested Mr. Issa invited Ms. O'Connor in a politically motivated move to dig up dirt on the White House.

The hearing is not about policy, he said, "it's about politics and press."

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