Oversight Report: Obama's Use of 'Bully Pulpit' Led to IRS Targeting
Obama went on to urge Congress to “pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.”
Thereafter, the report said, the president “kept up the rhetorical assault as he railed against the decision in campaign-style speeches across the country.” IRS employees “followed his public messaging” and “in February 2010, the IRS identified and elevated the initial conservative tax-exempt applications due to concerns about media attention surrounding the Tea Party.” Lerner dispatched emails acknowledging that the IRS was being pressured to “fix the problem.”
The committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), has been investigating to determine whether the White House coordinated with the IRS to deny the applications of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. The probe has centered on Lois Lerner, who directed the Division of Exempt Organizations during the period in question. She has refused to testify and last month was held in contempt of Congress.
Now it has been revealed that the IRS has proved unable to recover about 24,000 emails that Lerner exchanged with other administration officials from 2009 to 2011 as a result of what has been characterized as a “computer crash.” It was during that period that Lerner was overseeing the improper targeting of conservative and tea party groups. The committee wanted the emails to determine if she communicated with the White House over the situation.
As a result, Issa has subpoenaed IRS commissioner John Koskinen to appear before the committee next week to provide an explanation. He also has ordered delivery of “all back-up tapes, external drives, thumb drives, or other storage media the IRS used to capture, archive, back up, or otherwise record e-mails sent or received by Lois Lerner from January 1, 2009, to September 23, 2013.”
In addition the chairman wants “all electronic communication devices the IRS issued to Lois G. Lerner from January 1, 2009, to September 23, 2013, and have been lost as a result of a ‘computer crash.’”
In a statement, Issa asserted that the report establishes that the IRS listened to the president’s rhetoric and “subjected conservative groups to systematic scrutiny and delay.” Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member on the committee, dismissed the report as “partisan,” noting that it fails to show “any White House involvement or political motivation in the screening of tax-exempt applicants.”
The White House did not respond to the report.
Asked about the missing emails at Wednesday's briefing, press secretary Jay Carney replied, "I would refer you to the IRS and they've answered this question. They, you know, they can answer it again."
"We did in fact do a search for all communications between Lois Lerner and any person within the Executive Office of the President for this period. We found zero e-mails -- sorry to disappoint -- between Lois Lerner and anyone within the EOP during this period," Carney added. "We found three e-mails where a third party e-mailed both Lois Lerner and officials within the EOP. One was a spam e-mail and two others were from a person seeking tax assistance. Each of these e-mails has been produced to Congress."