The Internal Revenue Service found 6,400 more Lois Lerner emails — but they’re not handing them over in court.
The IRS’ latest excuses are nothing short of infuriating.
Department of Justice lawyers Geoffrey J. Klimas and Stephanie Sasarak, acting as counsel for the IRS, submitted a U.S. District Court filing June 12 in the case Judicial Watch v. Internal Revenue Service. The court filing, provided to The Daily Caller, claims the IRS received new Lerner emails from the Treasury Department’s inspector general (TIGTA) but can’t fork over the emails to Judicial Watch, a nonprofit group suing to get the emails. Why? Because the IRS is busy making sure that none of the emails are duplicates – you know, so as not to waste anyone’s time.
However, the inspector general already made sure that none of the emails were duplicates, so the IRS’ latest excuse falls flat. Here are takeaways from the court filing.
TIGTA gave the IRS 6,400 Lerner emails that they recovered from backup tapes:
“On April 23, 2015, TIGTA provided approximately 6,400 forensically-recovered emails to the Service,” Klimas and Sasarak wrote. “Certain of the emails forensically recovered by TIGTA were not readable, or not entirely readable, as initially provided to the Service. TIGTA subsequently provided some of these documents to the Service in readable form on May 8 and June 1, 2015. To date, TIGTA has not provided any other recovered emails to the Service.”
TIGTA already checked for duplicate emails:
“Prior to providing the Service with the approximately 6,400 forensically-recovered emails, TIGTA identified and removed emails which appear to be duplicates of those which the Service has already produced to the Congressional Committees or were duplicates of other recovered emails.”
As TheDC reported, the inspector general needed some kind of special software to make sure the emails weren’t duplicates, then they received the software, so the “checking for duplicates” explanation should have been put to rest.
But the IRS is going to go ahead and do some “deduplication” anyway, just to make sure TIGTA de-duplicated correctly:
“Such emails are also duplicates of those the Service has already retrieved in connection with responding to the FOIA requests at issue in this case. The Service is in the process of conducting further manual deduplication of the 6,400 forensically-recovered emails to supplement the automated deduplication conducted by TIGTA. TIGTA also is further reviewing the 6,400 emails to verify that they were not already produced to the Congressional Committees by the Service.”
The deduplication might take a long time:
“The emails which TIGTA has recovered, and any additional emails that TIGTA may recover and provide to the Service, could affect the Service’s ability to complete its review and production of Lerner communications by September 2015.”
The IRS isn’t going to start de-duplicating the emails it has until AFTER it reviews “Lerner communications which were not forensically recovered.” In other words, they’re going to review Lerner emails that they DON’T HAVE before they look at the ones that they DO have:
“The Service expects to begin processing and reviewing the recovered emails immediately following its review and production of Lerner communications which were not forensically recovered. At this time, the Service is unable to estimate when it will finish processing and reviewing the forensically-recovered emails.”
Why can’t they just turn over all the emails and let Judicial Watch or the congressional committees “de-duplicate” them? Who cares if they hand over duplicates? Is the House Oversight Committee going to get angry because the IRS accidentally gave them two copies of the same email? Of course not!
Judicial Watch isn’t buying it. The group’s president Tom Fitton told TheDC in an exclusive statement that he’s not giving up.
“Even though TIGTA already identified and removed emails that are duplicates, the IRS is in ‘the process of conducting further manual deduplication of the 6,400’ emails, rather than reviewing them in response to Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests that are more than 2 years old now,” Fitton said. “Our legal team will continue pursuing all necessary and available legal options to hold the IRS accountable for its flagrant abuse of power.”
Meanwhile, as TheDC reported, DOJ lawyers tried to shut down the search for Lois Lerner’s missing backup tapes, which were only located recently at a storage facility in West Virginia.
The legal advocacy group Cause of Action is also encountering ridiculous excuses in its own lawsuit to get Lerner’s emails. Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew, Obama’s former White House chief of staff, seized all of the emails that went back and forth between the IRS and the White House and won’t hand them over, arguing that since confidential taxpayer information was illegally disclosed in the emails, then it would be illegal to make the emails public – since they have confidential taxpayer information in them. Get it?