Federal Judge Gives IRS Until Friday To Explain Itself On Lerner Emails

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Ethan Barton Editor in Chief
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A federal judge says the Internal Revenue Service has until Friday to provide answers on the status of Lois Lerner’s emails that were previously declared lost, a watchdog group announced Monday.

Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court of Columbia issued the order June 4 in response to a June 2 request from Judicial Watch – a nonprofit government transparency group.

“The Obama IRS obstructed and lied to a federal judge and Judicial Watch in an effort to hide the truth about Lois Lerner’s emails,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said. “The IRS is out of control and Judicial Watch is happy that Judge Sullivan has taken this key step to remind the agency that it is accountable to the rule of law and the American people.”

Judicial Watch argued before Sullivan that newly-recovered backup tapes contain information the watchdog requested through the Freedom of Information Act and that the IRS had to provide details regarding the number of emails and the time-frame that they would be released.

Judicial Watch filed the FOIA request in an efforts to get to the bottom of the IRS’s illegal targeting during the 2010 and 2012 election campaigns of conservative and Tea Party nonprofit applicants.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration recovered 744 backup tapes containing 32,000 of Lerner’s emails, which the agency claimed were destroyed or irretrievably lost. The oversight agency received the tapes one day after requesting them, according to Judicial Watch.

“The IRS subsequently produced 424 additional backup tapes in February 2015,” Judicial Watch said.

Judicial Watch told Sullivan that the IRS claimed the backup tapes were no longer available, but never spoke with technicians and that TIGTA Deputy Inspector General Camus testified that, contrary to the tax agency’s claims, certain hard drives had not been destroyed.

IRS officials claimed that “the IRS is under no obligation to request copies of the emails recovered by TIGTA because they are allegedly not agency records,” according to court documents.

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