South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy urged former IRS lawyer Jennifer O’Connor to understand what the Lois Lerner email scandal looks like outside the bureaucratic Beltway, asking, “If you were just a regular citizen . . . what negative inference would you draw?”
O’Connor — a White House lawyer who previously presided over the IRS’s effort to collect Lois Lerner’s emails — was grilled by Gowdy over the search’s parameters, which the congressman claimed were unnecessarily limited.
“What’s wrong with the search terms being ‘to’ and ‘from?’” he asked.
“Well that would get you everything –” O’Connor began.
“Right, that’s my point,” Gowdy interrupted. “Why reduce it? If you want access to all the information, if you want access to all of the truth, why are you reducing the search terms? Why not just ‘to Lois Lerner’ and ‘from Lois Lerner?’”
The South Carolina congressman got particularly heated when trying to explain to O’Connor why the failure to retain Lerner’s emails was so outrageous.
“What negative inference would you draw — if you were just one of our fellow citizens watching this,” Gowdy said. “You know that initially there was a denial of targeting. You know that she picked a very obscure [American Bar Association] conference to disclose that targeting had taken place.”
“You know that initially it was blamed on two rogue agents — in fact, Jay Carney perpetuated that myth,” he continued. “You know that Lois Lerner took the Fifth Amendment. You know that the president of the United States said there was not a smidgen of corruption. And now you’re told that the evidence doesn’t exist, the emails don’t exist.”
“What negative inference — if you were just a regular citizen sitting at home watching this, and you’ve got that litany of failed defenses, those false, exculpatory statements, and now you’re told that evidence doesn’t exist — what negative inference would you draw?” the lawmaker angrily concluded.
O’Connor noted that Lerner tried to send her laptop to government IT professionals in order to retrieve the emails. “The inference that I would draw is that if she wanted intentionally to destroy the material, she would not have sent it,” the lawyer asserted.