A cottage industry grew up following the revelation that Rosemary Woods, Richard Nixon’s secretary, performed feats of contortionism worthy of Barnum and Bailey in order to “accidentally” erase 18 1/2 minutes of a June 20, 1972, tape that most experts agree contained a conversation between the president and Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman discussing Watergate.
Here is Woods demonstrating her act:
Perhaps some day we’ll have a similar photo of how Lois Lerner “accidentally” crashed her computer to erase nearly two years of emails.
To this day, we don’t know what those missing 18 1/2 minutes contained. Oliver Stone in Nixon used the tape gap to try to link him to the JFK assassination. Many Watergate experts think since other meetings Nixon had during the day referred to the FBI, that Nixon may have told Haldeman specifically to tell the FBI to back off and halt the investigation so that it led only to the original conspirators.
Will the missing Lerner emails suffer a similar fate?
Alan Joel at Tax Politix ferreted out an interesting tidbit of information. He recalled the Treasury Department Inspector General report from last year; and, sure enough, the IG used numerous email sources to develop a timeline of IRS targeting activity.
The period of missing emails from Lerner is January 2009 to April 2011. Here’s the IG timeline covering that time period (“Appendix VII, Comprehensive Timeline of Events”).
Some of the events in the missing email time period are quite significant. Senator Durbin’s letter asking the IRS to investigate Crossroads GPS and other groups was written in October 2010. The actual targeting of conservative groups began in March of 2010. Lerner’s own involvement in the targeting begins shortly after the missing period (June 2011), which makes you wonder what she might have known prior to that time.
Incredibly, this report, released in May 2013, names “email” as the source for much of their timeline documenting events in 2010 and 2011, but possibly now, those emails are “lost”. 16 out of the 26 non-redacted events in that timeline refer to “email” as the source. Take a look. And, what was redacted? We don’t know.
Again, the IRS claims it only “has Lerner emails to and from other IRS employees during this time frame…it cannot produce emails written only to or from Lerner and outside agencies or groups, such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or Democrat offices.” The ability for an inbox to lose certain emails during the time frame — but not others — is incredible.
David Camp hits the nail on the head when he notes that, “because of this loss of documents, we are conveniently left to believe that Lois Lerner acted alone”.
Joel also found this interesting bit from Eliana Johnson of NRO written a couple of days ago when the story broke about the IRS sending the FBI private taxpayer information in 2010:
[the IRS] sent a database on 501(c)(4) social-welfare groups containing confidential taxpayer information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to documents obtained by a House panel. The information was transmitted in advance of former IRS official Lois Lerner’s meeting the same month with Justice Department officials about the possibility of using campaign-finance laws to prosecute certain nonprofit groups. E-mails between Lerner and Richard Pilger, the director of the Justice Department’s election-crimes branch, obtained through a subpoena to Attorney General Eric Holder, show Lerner asking about the format in which the FBI preferred the data to be sent.
Funny how relatively innocuous information takes on a much more important sheen when you discover that email from Lerner to Pilger may not exist anymore.
In fact, committee investigators may be able to recover some of those emails by following various email “trees” of addressees. It’s painstaking work but will be invaluable in trying to find other bits and pieces that may advance the investigation.
White House stonewalling has gotten a huge assist from this “accidental” computer meltdown. Lerner herself may avoid the perp walk due to lack of evidence. In the end, it’s the same story we’ve been hearing for five years.
Nothing to see here. Move along.