Republican Congressman Kenny Marchant asked IRS Commissioner John Koskinen Friday if FBI or National Security Agency databases possibly contain copies of the presumably destroyed Lois Lerner emails — the second Texas Republican to suggest the NSA’s domestic spying program could be used to investigate corruption at the tax agency.
Marchant questioned the commissioner as part of a contentious Friday hearing on the lost emails of former IRS Exempt Organizations head Lois Lerner, accused of orchestrating a deliberate campaign against conservative and tea party groups seeking tax-exempt status.
The tax agency claims that two years of Lerner’s email are irrecoverable after her hard drive crashed and IT employees chose to “recycle” the computer. Six other IRS officials in constant contact with Lerner also had computer crashes within the same time period, furthering GOP suspicion of a deliberate cover-up.
But Republicans are intent on retrieving the emails by any means necessary.
On June 13, Texas Congressman Steve Stockman wrote a letter to the NSA requesting that “the Agency produce all metadata it has collected on all of Ms. Lerner’s email accounts for the period between January 2009 and April 2011.”
And on Friday, Marchant asked Commissioner Koskinen his opinion on the unorthodox push to retrieve the emails of Lerner and other suspect officials.
“Is the IRS and its emails exempt from monitoring by the FBI or the NSA?” Marchant asked.
“Uh, I have no information about that,” Koskinen replied. “But I have no indication that we are exempt from anybody’s monitoring.”
“So we don’t know that the emails are not totally all [ir]recoverable, in some process,” the congressman pressed.
“If the NSA was monitoring all of our emails and collecting them and saving them someplace, then they might be there,” Koskinen admitted. “But I’m not aware that that was done.”