Commissioner Admits No Evidence IRS Made Any Effort to Recover Lerner Emails from 6-month Backup Tapes

Published: Jun 23, 2014

In Q and A with Rep. Chaffetz, Koskinen says agency did not pursue recovery because it was ‘costly’

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., today convened a hearing with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen on the loss of former IRS official Lois Lerner’s email over a two year period. Under questioning from Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Koskinen said that the IRS made no effort to recover Lerner’s email archive from the six month backups after her initial computer problems in June of 2011.

Watch the exchange here.

Question & Answer with Rep. Chaffetz:

Chaffetz: Thank you Chairman, my understanding is that the backup of emails only lasted for six months, that’s correct?

Koskinen: Yes, it’s actually a disaster recovery system and it backs up for six months in case the entire system goes down.

C: And that was in place in 2011?

K: That was the rule in 2011. Policy.

C: So when Lois Lerner figured out on June 13th that her computer crashed, and there have been emails showing that she was going to great lengths to try to get that recovered, why didn’t they just go to that six month tape?

K: Because that six month tape is a disaster recovery tape that has all of the emails on it and is a very complicated tape to actually extract emails for, but I have not seen any emails to explain why they didn’t do it, so it would be difficult, but I don’t know why.

C: But you said the IRS was going to extraordinary lengths to give it to the recovery team, correct?

K: That’s correct.

C: But it’s backed up on tape.

K: For six months, yes.

C: And that was within the six month window, so why didn’t you get them off the backup?

K: All I know about that is that the backup tapes are disaster recovery tapes that put everything in one lump and extracting individual emails out of that is very costly and difficult. And that was not the policy at the time.

C: Did anybody try?

K: I have no idea or indication that they did.

C: So you have multiple emails showing she was trying to recover this, it’s the testimony of the IRS that they were trying desperately, in fact you got a forensic team to try to extract this, you went to great lengths, you made a big point over the last week about all the efforts you’re going through, but they were backed up on tape, and you didn’t do it?

K: As far as I know they did not, but they did have, as I noted, the emails, she had three months worth of emails at that time.