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Lois Lerner’s ‘Lost’ Emails And The IRS’s Credibility Problem

Lois Lerner At Hearing

It was late on Friday when the Internal Revenue Service announced that it had lost some unknown number of emails sent to and from Lois Lerner, the woman at the center of the targeting scandal that came to light last year, due to a computer hard drive crash. As I noted at the time, the claim itself seemed incredulous given the fact that Federal laws that have been in place for decades require agencies such as the IRS to maintain copies of all records, something that one would think would be relatively easy when dealing with electronic communications. So, if Lerner’s emails really were “lost” from their original location, then there should be a backup somewhere unless the communications in place took place outside of the normal communications channels that would have resulted in automatic backup, something that is supposed to be against standard practice for all Federal agencies.

John Hinderaker and Scott Johnson do a good job of summarizing the relevant law and agency policies regarding electronic records retention, and from that they reach the conclusion that the agency is lying when it says that it lost Lerner’s emails. The other possibility, of course, is that communication was being conducted outside of official channels, which at the very least would have been a serious deviation from standard procedure, and may well constitute a violation of Federal Law under the right circumstances.  Even leaving the accusation that the agency is lying here, though, it’s still fairly concerning that this would be the response to a request for records from a Congressional oversight committee. At the very least, it would suggest that the laws and policies aren’t being followed. At the worst, it would suggest that someone tried to cover something up.

It’s entirely possible, of course, that there’s nothing nefarious in any of the missing email correspondence, and even that most of it is completely unrelated to the targeting scandal. Despite that, the odd circumstances under which the communications were supposedly lost is giving Congressional Republicans who have been pursuing this scandal an new issue to run with:

WASHINGTON — At least two House committees investigating the Internal Revenue Service are looking into whether the agency’s claim that it lost emails of interest to investigators amounted to obstruction and a violation of the agency’s own archival rules, congressional aides said on Monday.

Late Friday, the I.R.S. told investigators looking into accusations of politically motivated misconduct by the agency that two years’ worth of emails sent and received by the official at the center of the inquiry, Lois Lerner, had been destroyed because of a computer crash in mid-2011.

The disclosure, included in an I.R.S. filing to the Senate Finance Committee, added to suspicions among Republican lawmakers that the I.R.S. was not cooperating fully with the investigations into the agency’s treatment of conservative political groups seeking tax-exempt status during the 2012 election cycle.

“We have a lot of questions,” said an aide to the Ways and Means Committee, which is focused on suspicions of obstruction. “How long have they known about this? What do you mean they’re completely gone?”

Separately, the House Oversight Committee is looking into the more technical question of whether the I.R.S. violated its own record-keeping rules and provisions of the Federal Records Act, an aide to that committee said. The aides spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Representative Dave Camp of Michigan, a Republican who is the Ways and Means chairman, said in a written statement on Friday: “The fact that I am just learning about this, over a year into the investigation, is completely unacceptable and now calls into question the credibility of the I.R.S.’s response to congressional inquiries.”

Mr. Camp called for an “immediate investigation and forensic audit by the Department of Justice as well as the inspector general.”

An investigation by the Treasury Department’s inspector general concluded that while I.R.S. employees had acted improperly, there was no evidence of political motivation or outside influence.

Republican lawmakers, after first demanding emails and other documents directly related to the agency’s scrutiny of political groups, later expanded their inquiry to include all emails sent and received by Ms. Lerner in an attempt to establish coordination between the I.R.S. and other agencies, including the Federal Election Committee, the Justice Department and the White House.

The I.R.S. initially provided 11,000 of Ms. Lerner’s emails that it deemed directly related to the applications for tax exemption filed by political groups. Under pressure from Republican leaders, John Koskinen, the I.R.S. commissioner, agreed to provide all of Ms. Lerner’s emails, but also repeatedly emphasized the labor costs involved in such an undertaking.

“If you want them all, we’ll give them all to you,” he told the House Oversight Committee in March, but he added that doing so might take years. Since then, the I.R.S. has provided roughly 32,000 more emails directly from Ms. Lerner’s account.

Interesting the IRS’s claims about lost email aren’t being well received by even the so-called “mainstream media.” Yesterday on his Sunday morning show, CNN’s John King essentially mocked the claim:

As did MSNBC’s Mika Brezinski on Morning Joe:

These media reactions are just a reflection of the fact that there’s just something about this revelation about lost email communications, conveniently made public as part of Washington’s traditional “Friday news dump,” or “Take Out The Trash Day’ as The West Wing referred to it. If proper procedures were followed then those communications should not have been lost at all. So, the fact that they were lost raises only a limited number of possibility. Either the backups exist somewhere but just haven’t been discovered, the backups existed but were destroyed, or Lerner was communicating with outside groups via methods that evaded the agency’s procedures. As I stated in my original post on this matter, I tend to believe that incidents like this can be ascribed more to bureaucratic incompetence than nefarious motives. However, the manner in which the IRS moved from saying that providing the records would be delayed because the scope of the project, a seemingly acceptable explanation given that we’re talking about roughly 32,000 emails, to the new explanation that some portion of those communications were lost makes the agency seem like the schoolchild trying to come up with excuses for why they didn’t do their homework. I honestly can’t blame Republicans in Congress if they aren’t placing much credibility in these claims at the moment, and I can guarantee that we’ll be hearing more about the mystery of the missing email in the future.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  2. Modulo Myself says:

    So basically the IRS’s story could add up, and probably does, but one can’t blame the Republicans in Congress for trying to gin a scandal out of this. It’s politics.

    Meanwhile, it’s totally horrifying for the IRS to think for a second that the Tea Party was some desperate cash-fueled highly-partisan attempt to take down Obama, so Lois Lerner’s entire life should be run through, bit by bit, and if that’s not there, one can’t be blamed for speculating, right?

    What’s funny is that all Republicans are basically of the opinion that the Obama shut down the Tea Party so he could be reelected, yet they get furious about the fact how anybody could have thought the Tea Party was an enterprise of hacks determined to keep Obama from being elected.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 20 Thumb down 9

  3. C. Clavin says:

    @Timothy Watson:
    That will never work in a conspiracy theory…so it must be false.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  4. Modulo Myself says:

    @Timothy Watson:
    @C. Clavin:

    Well, it’s clear that Lois Lerner was so tech-savvy that she orchestrated a computer crash. But she was also not tech-savvy enough because she used her office computer to send out emails regarding the conspiracy. Regardless, the huge demographic of voters who can not tell the difference between Nigerian spam and real mail thinks something suspicious is going on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  5. Louis R says:

    Unbelievable! Maybe we can get a hacker to retrieve the emails.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. wr says:

    Wait, two entirely different ultra hardcore right wingers writing for the online insane asylum Powerline both independently came to a conclusion that someone the Republicans would like to use to hurt Obama is lying? No wonder you’re convinced now, Doug. That’s pretty hard to refute! I guess when Jenos joins in, you’ll be a total convert!

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 7

  7. Jeremy R says:

    @Timothy Watson:

    That article debunks Doug’s main contention about backups as well. From the WaPo article you posted:

    Prior to the eruption of the IRS controversy last spring, the IRS had a policy of backing up the data on its email server (which runs Microsoft Outlook) every day. It kept a backup of the records for six months on digital tape, according to a letter sent from the IRS to Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). After six months, the IRS would reuse those tapes for newer backups. So when Congressional committees began requesting emails from the agency, its records only went back to late 2012.

    The IRS also had two other policies that complicated things. The first was a limit on how big its employees’ email inboxes could be. At the IRS, employees could keep 500 megabytes of data on the email server. If the mailbox got too big, email would need to be deleted or moved to a local folder on the user’s computer.

    Emails considered an “official record” of the IRS couldn’t be deleted and, in fact, needed to also have a hard copy filed. Those emails that constitute an official record are ones that are loosely defined under IRS policy as ones that were “[c]reated or received in the transaction of agency business,” “appropriate for preservation as evidence of the government’s function or activities,” or “valuable because of the information they contain”. The letter sent to the senators suggests that it was up to the user to determine what emails met those standards. It’s not clear if Lerner had any hard copies of important emails.

    The effect of the size limit and the need to preserve records is that IRS employees have local copies of emails, particularly important ones.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  8. stonetools says:

    Prior to the eruption of the IRS controversy last spring, the IRS had a policy of backing up the data on its email server (which runs Microsoft Outlook) every day

    So my decision to move to the Mac receives a boost.

    More seriously, all this sounds like the kind of bueaucratic bungling that happens in many a big instiution


    And then the bad news: In 2011, Lerner’s computer crashed. She requested that the IRS’ information technology division try and recover the data from her hard drive. It was unable to do so, and it appears that individual machines like hers weren’t backed up.

    I’m sorry , this just does not sound like some calculated conspiracy.I understand why the Republicans don’t find it “acceptable”. But it not being “acceptable” doesn’t mean intentional malfeasance. I sure hope Doug isn’t morphing into accepting the “conspiracy” narrative. Reading too much Hot Air and PowerLine will do that to you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  9. Paul L. says:

    Funny the same people outraged about this “witchunt” Bush White House email controversy now dismiss this.
    @Modulo Myself:

    so Lois Lerner’s entire life should be run through, bit by bit,

    You sound like someone defending a cop caught on tape beating a innocent woman.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 13

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    You know how I know there is no conspiracy here? Something doesn’t add up. In ALL of Obama’s conspiracies, things always add up because he is so good at it that he attends to every single little detail.

    So if things don’t add up, either Mitch McConnell is involved, or Boehner is. Those 2 could mess up a wet dream.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  11. An Interested Party says:

    Funny the same people outraged about this “witchunt” Bush White House email controversy now dismiss this.

    And vice versa…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Paul L.: Funny thing Paul, I was just wondering how many of those people who are now upset thought it was no big deal back then.

    I was also thinking that when Obama heard about this he did a face palm because now Republicans have a nothing that should be something even if it was really nothing all along. If that didn’t make any sense? Don’t worry, none of this does.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  13. Mikey says:

    @Jeremy R: So it seems I was probably correct.

    I’ve never done work for the IRS, but I do for a couple other agencies, and their e-mails are clearly marked “record’ or “non-record.” I think it would be pretty ridiculous–and expensive–to require government agencies to keep every single e-mail they generate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  14. James Pearce says:

    “from that they reach the conclusion that the agency is lying when it says that it lost Lerner’s emails.”

    Lying? That’s a bit much. Why is it not possible that Lerner, not being an IT expert, or the IRS’s PR team, also not being IT experts, don’t really know what happened to the e-mails? From their layman perspective, the e-mails were lost.

    To complicate matters even more, the IT folks who support Lerner’s office are probably not even Federal employees. If they’re not doing their due diligence when it comes to legal compliance, they will be more than happy for IRS to take the heat on this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  15. Jeremy R says:

    @James Pearce:

    The WaPo article Timothy posted up top lays out how John Hinderaker, Scott Johnson and Doug’s assumptions about the IRS’s backup strategy are completely incorrect.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  16. Modulo Myself says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Except if you read what the Bush White House was doing, they were using a RNC account rather than a White House account in order to discuss internal matters, including the firing of government officials. It’s really clear what happened. That these emails on the RNC account were lost makes it even more suspicious.

    Also, Congress investigated a concrete act–the attorney firings, and came up with evidence that pointed to deliberate concealment. And it didn’t take a lot of time, either. It’s not rocket-science to put together political scandals. People in Washington are not part of the Illuminati.

    This version of the GOP operates like the creationists and climate-change deniers they are. They are not at the beginning of the beginning, nor at the beginning of the beginning of the beginning, but they are close, very close, to being at the beginning of the beginning of the beginning of the beginning.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  17. Another Mike says:

    This lost email business needs to be independently investigated. The Powerline blogs quote IRS information Police and it sounds plausible. WaPo article seems to contain information that had to be provided by someone within IRS. It is possible the article was coordinated with the government and is disinformation. We will not get to the bottom of this until it is independently investigated. A good starting point would be these questions: http://nation.foxnews.com/2014/06/15/sharyl-attkisson-has-several-questions-about-irs-‘computer-crash’-lost-emails
    I do not know what the truth is and neither does anyone else here. Emails can get lost, and emails can be made to get lost.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 10

  18. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    To complicate matters even more, the IT folks who support Lerner’s office are probably not even Federal employees. If they’re not doing their due diligence when it comes to legal compliance, they will be more than happy for IRS to take the heat on this.

    The IRS would bear ultimate responsibility in such a scenario, because an IRS manager certifies on a regular basis that the contractors are performing their duties properly. This is something I as a contractor am simply not allowed to do, for obvious reasons. A federal employee has to ensure I’ve done everything the contract specifies, and followed all the rules the government has put in place.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  19. Jeremy R says:

    @Another Mike:

    I like how Fox Nation name drops Attkisson without once mentioning she’s a Heritage flunky now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Modulo Myself:Unless of course, Obama is the Illuminati, which is my contention.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  21. Another Bush administration scandal involving the wiping of hard drives and e-mails:
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Bloch

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Another Mike:

    Emails can get lost, and emails can be made to get lost.

    sssssshhhhhhh……. i’d be careful if I were you, the same can be said of people

    On a more serious note? If you want the truth, turn off FOX. You won’t find it there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  23. Modulo Myself says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    He’s part Illuminati, part dumbest President ever. It makes for a unique executive style.

    @Jeremy R:

    It’s amazing that people get paid for that type of reporting. Real investigative reporters leave their offices and do things; she just writes mind-numbingly obvious blog comments for Fox News.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  24. wr says:

    @Another Mike: “I do not know what the truth is and neither does anyone else here. ”

    Well, actually I do know one bit of truth: The reporter you cite to bolster your claim happily accepted and broadcast the lies of a complete — and completely obvious — phony about Benghazi because it suited her political prejudices. And that was on 60 Minutes, which at least tries to pretend objectivity. Now she’s at Fox… so you will forgive me if I don’t jump when she started screaming “cover-up.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

  25. rudderpedals says:

    There’s nothing here. Nevertheless, it’s cheap to archive everything. If any good was to come of this (it won’t) it would be in the form of govt-wide appropriations to fund and mandate this, preferably with a default to make it all public after a short amount of time. Doing it would be less costly than the current + all future investigations into will-o-the-wisps.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  26. DrDaveT says:

    As I noted at the time, the claim itself seemed incredulous [sic] given the fact that Federal laws that have been in place for decades require agencies such as the IRS to maintain copies of all records, something that one would think would be relatively easy when dealing with electronic communications.

    And as I noted at the time, the requirement to maintain all records is trumped by physical disasters in which those records are destroyed. The VA was required to maintain all veteran records, too — but that didn’t prevent the fire that burned them all in the mid 1970s.

    Let’s be clear here — no emails were ‘lost’. We know exactly where they are — they’re on the (unrecoverable) crashed hard drive of Lerner’s old PC. They didn’t vanish in a vacuum, either; Lerner lost the entire contents of that machine. Which her IT folks tried to recover and couldn’t.

    Is Lerner to blame for not backing up her local drives regularly? Probably, though I personally feel that it is the responsibility of IT support in large organizations to manage the corporate backup plan. (My own company is egregiously remiss in this area.) Is there anything here to point at conspiracy, or deliberate destruction of data, or anything else worth pointing at? Almost certainly not.

    Besides, if all of those emails were available, and showed no correspondence of the kind Issa is fishing for, would that count as evidence of innocence to the witch-hunters? Hardly; they’d just say that she must have gotten her instructions over the phone, or in person. There is no conceivable evidence that could establish Lerner’s innocence to the satisfaction of the Republicans at this point — which makes this remarkably similar to their views on global warming, homosexuality, and gun control.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    He’s part Illuminati, part dumbest President ever. It makes for a unique executive style.

    Not to hear Republicans tell it. According to them, he is so diabolically clever that even when he gives them everything they want? They got screwed. Every time. But then, only a conservative mind could wrap itself around the idea of Obama being a complete idiot and yet able to outsmart them at every turn.

    How they do that?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  28. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    To complicate matters even more, the IT folks who support Lerner’s office are probably not even Federal employees.

    I would be quite surprised if they’re not feds. IRS has quite a lot of in-house IT support, in large part driven by the strict disclosure laws regarding a lot of the material on those computer systems.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  29. Franklin says:

    A hard drive crash? I’m pretty sure the NSA can help you with that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  30. @Jeremy R:

    If that article is correct, the the IRS’s own backup strategy may be violating the Federal Records Act and other laws

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  31. Modulo Myself says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Blame the MSM.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  32. wr says:

    @wr: I’d actually asked to have this message removed because I mistook Atkisson for Lara Logan — got my right-wing fake reporters mixed up… Don’t know why it went through.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  33. bk says:

    John Hinderaker and Scott Johnson do a good job

    You lost me right there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3

  34. bill says:

    @An Interested Party: payback is a female dog.
    @rudderpedals: i know, she could have used a yahoo account to back it up for free, now there’s just more sleaze to sift through and more excuses to try to remember under oath- if she ever decides to.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  35. Dean says:

    So, no one here is concerned that a director at a Federal agency was doing agency business and backing up her e-mail on her hard drive?

    And, while it attempts to provide cover, the article in the Washington Post noted in an earlier post is an absolute joke when it comes to record-keeping protocol. There is no way that approach would ever stand up to legal scrutiny, let alone when audit time comes.

    Can’t we expect just a little more from our government?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  36. Tyrell says:

    Other famous disappearances: the disappearance of Judge Crater right off a busy street in NYC; the disappearance of the crew and passengers of the sailing ship Mary Celeste: no sign of a struggle or imminent danger – everything on board was normal and it was like they vanished into thin air with no clue or ideas. And probably the most famous of them all, the disappearance of Flight 19 in 1945 , when six US Navy plames disappeared off of the coast of Florida in good weather and no radio reports of any problems. Even one of the search planes vanishes. All of this in an area of the Atlantic where planes and ships disappear without a clue. No trace of these planes has ever been found. Nothing, zilch. Lots of theories. And get this: Navy pilots don’t get lost.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  37. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    I thought I posted this, but apparently I hit a wrong button.

    The PowerLine guys found something else very interesting in the released documents — an e-mail from Lerner to IRS Tech Support.

    In it, Lerner asks for help in recovering her personal files from the crash — but doesn’t mention how she also lost two years of irreplaceable e-mails. That strikes me as a rather significant omission. Not conclusive, but highly indicative.

    She also cc’s her administrative assistant and asks that the assistant be cc’d on the tech support response, indicating that she was in the loop on a lot of Lerner’s work. So an examination of the assistant’s e-mail records for everything from Lerner, to Lerner, and cc’s that included Lerner could help reconstruct a lot of the “lost” e-mails.

    Assuming, of course, that the IRS is genuinely interested in recovering and giving Congress those e-mails…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7

  38. DrDaveT says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    If that article is correct, the the IRS’s own backup strategy may be violating the Federal Records Act and other laws

    Could you elaborate on that? What, specifically, do you think they are doing that is in violation of the law?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  39. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    Are the emails on her computer not her files?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  40. DrDaveT says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    In it, Lerner asks for help in recovering her personal files from the crash — but doesn’t mention how she also lost two years of irreplaceable e-mails.

    Huh? The emails were (some of) the lost personal files. There is no ‘also’ here. Once you have rolled the emails to .pst archives on your local drive, they are just files like any other files.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  41. DrDaveT says:

    @Dean:

    So, no one here is concerned that a director at a Federal agency was doing agency business and backing up her e-mail on her hard drive?

    On the contrary, I think it’s a scandal that the agency solely responsible for collecting the revenue that allows the country to run is so underfunded by Congress that they can’t even afford modern data management systems. I think there needs to be an independent investigation of this.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  42. DrDaveT says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    So an examination of the assistant’s e-mail records for everything from Lerner, to Lerner, and cc’s that included Lerner could help reconstruct a lot of the “lost” e-mails.

    Seriously? You didn’t read the part where they made it clear that THEY HAVE ALREADY DONE THIS?

    All of the emails from Lerner to IRS employees and to Lerner from IRS employees have been recovered, and have been turned over to Congress.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 2

  43. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: Are the emails on her computer not her files?

    Here’s the text of the e-mail:

    It was nice to meet you this morning — although I would have preferred it was under different circumstances. I’m taking advantage of your offer to try and recapture my lost personal files. My computer skills are pretty basic, so nothing fancy — but there were some documents in the files that are irreplaceable. Whatever you can do to help, is greatly appreciated. I’ve cced my exec assistant. It’s always a good idea to include her emails to me because she gets to my emails faster than I do. Thanks!

    So no, in the e-mail, she specifically says that the files in question are not her work-related e-mails.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 11

  44. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    So her .pst files that were saved on her hard drive aren’t irreplaceable personal files? Gotcha. I missed the part of that email where she ”specifically says the files in question are not her work related e-mails.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  45. Scott O says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Maybe she didn’t care about a bunch of old emails? Now if she had asked the techs to not recover the emails Mr Hinderaker wouldn’t look like such a moron.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  46. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    So no, in the e-mail, she specifically says that the files in question are not her work-related e-mails.

    She specifically says nothing of the sort. Complete and total lie, once again. But bonus points this time for lying about something that’s in black and white for us to read. So let’s go through it line by line!

    It was nice to meet you this morning — although I would have preferred it was under different circumstances. — Is this specifically saying the files in question are not her work-related emails? It is not.

    I’m taking advantage of your offer to try and recapture my lost personal files. — Is this specifically saying the files in question are not her work-related emails? It is not.

    My computer skills are pretty basic, so nothing fancy — but there were some documents in the files that are irreplaceable. — Is this specifically saying the files in question are not her work-related emails? It is not.

    Whatever you can do to help, is greatly appreciated. — Is this specifically saying the files in question are not her work-related emails? It is not.

    I’ve cced my exec assistant. — Is this specifically saying the files in question are not her work-related emails? It is not.

    It’s always a good idea to include her emails to me because she gets to my emails faster than I do. – Is this specifically saying the files in question are not her work-related emails? It is not.

    Thanks! – Is this specifically saying the files in question are not her work-related emails? Once again, it is not!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  47. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: The average person who hears “personal” files on a work computer would be speaking of non-work-related files.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 11

  48. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Rafer Janders: After I posted the e-mail, I went back and read it over, specifically looking to see how someone fixated on twisting it to exonerate Lerner would spin it. I figured the argument would be “Lerner obviously discussed the lost e-mails in the face-to-face meeting, and only after that brought up her personal files as an afterthought, because she knew that the IRS’ IT guy’s first priority would be the work-related stuff, not her personal files. And her involving her assistant in on the e-mails shows that she wasn’t routinely plotting anything, as bringing in her would be an unnecessary risk of exposure.”

    I didn’t actually expect someone to dissect every single line and apply the most literal test to each and every single line.

    And I certainly didn’t expect this:

    I’m taking advantage of your offer to try and recapture my lost personal files. — Is this specifically saying the files in question are not her work-related emails? It is not.

    “Taking advantage” implies that recovering the files in question are NOT the IT guy’s specific responsibility, which would be recovering work-related files. And “personal files,” used in conjunction with “taking advantage,” strongly indicates that the files are NOT work-related.

    I don’t like tossing around the word “lie,” as it’s a hell of a loaded term and has a specific meaning that implies intent to deceive, but since you brought it up, your incredibly generous interpretation of that sentence comes awful close…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 11

  49. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Modulo Myself: Oh no, I blame Obama.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  50. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: That’s some pretty creative reading you got going there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  51. DrDaveT says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The average person who hears “personal” files on a work computer would be speaking of non-work-related files.

    That may be true. When my IT people say “personal files”, they mean files stored on personal drives, as opposed to networked drives. Given the context, I have been assuming that was the sense intended here.

    …particularly given the fact that the IRS has some reasonably strict rules about use of work computers for non-work purposes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  52. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    “Taking advantage” implies that recovering the files in question are NOT the IT guy’s specific responsibility, which would be recovering work-related files. And “personal files,” used in conjunction with “taking advantage,” strongly indicates that the files are NOT work-related.

    No, it doesn’t. I realize you want to read everything from her in the worst possible light, but that does not make your interpretation correct. Do you think she was asking him to recover chapters of her memoir or star wars fan fiction from her hard drive? Was there some code speak in there that said recover only my personal files and make sure the work files are destroyed, especially those emails that someone might one day subpoena? Or is this just conspiracy mongering?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  53. rudderpedals says:

    @bill: She’s being railroaded. But if these people really want her testimony they know exactly how to get it. Issa etc. hold the key..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  54. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @DrDaveT: That may be true. When my IT people say “personal files”, they mean files stored on personal drives, as opposed to networked drives. Given the context, I have been assuming that was the sense intended here.

    Oh, I absolutely agree that IT people would think of “personal” files as files specific to the user. But Lerner is clearly not an IT professional — see her comment about her expertise — and wouldn’t have the same mindset. To those people (and I’ve dealt with quite a few like that), “personal” almost always means “not work-related.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  55. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: We’re not having the same argument here.

    I’m saying my explanations are possible, plausible, and maybe even probable.

    You’re saying that I’m arguing that my explanations are the only possible explanations, and I’m lying because that’s not true.

    The only problem is, I’m not saying that. So I’d appreciate it if you’d stop arguing as if I was saying that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  56. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @rudderpedals: She’s being railroaded. But if these people really want her testimony they know exactly how to get it. Issa etc. hold the key..

    Once Lerner’s given immunity, she’s off the hook. Currently, we are finding out an awful lot without her cooperation — at least, we were, until the dog ate her e-mails. After the IRS assured Congress they had those records.

    I believe Lerner did quite a few wrong things while in office, and I’d like to see her pay for those wrongdoings. And if enough evidence can be unearthed showing that without offering her immunity, then perhaps she would be willing to cooperate as part of a plea bargain.

    And if it can’t, then we can always go back and offer her immunity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

  57. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I’m saying my explanations are possible, plausible, and maybe even probable.

    You said,

    So no, in the e-mail, she specifically says that the files in question are not her work-related e-mails.

    There are no qualifiers there, it is a clear statement that she stated something that she did not. You placed your interpretation of her statement as her statement.

    You’re saying that I’m arguing that my explanations are the only possible explanations, and I’m lying because that’s not true.

    I haven’t called you a liar, I have called you wrong and pointed out that at every turn you choose the least favorable possible interpretation of anything she says or does. You then state that without qualifiers. When called on it you play the delicate flower wilting away from unfair criticism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  58. rudderpedals says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: It’s the Prosecutor’s Dilemma, isn’t it? If you think you have the kingpin then it’s stupid to immunize her. But if the suggested conspiracy exists an immunized Lerner could sing like a songbird tomorrow. Would you agree?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  59. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The average person who hears “personal” files on a work computer would be speaking of non-work-related files.

    Perhaps the average stupid person who has never worked in an office with a computer. But in my firm, and in every firm I’ve ever worked at, professionals routinely use “personal files” to describe files stored on their computer’s hard drive and/or work-related files generated by them personally, as opposed to networked and/or group-accessible files.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  60. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    “Taking advantage” implies that recovering the files in question are NOT the IT guy’s specific responsibility, which would be recovering work-related files.

    AHAHAHAHAHA!

    So when I tell my assistant “thanks so much for your help today,” it strongly implies that she was helping me with non-work related personal matters, since working for me is her specific responsibility and cannot be described as “help”, which implies doing something that is not one’s duty….

    Once again, the sign of a sociopathic narcissist who can’t understand basic human behavior.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  61. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: “The average person who hears “personal” files on a work computer would be speaking of non-work-related files.”

    So you’ve gone from “specifically says that the files in question are not her work related emails” to “well, that’s not how I talk.” (Because to everyone but a pollster, the opinion of the average person inevitably correlates exactly to that of the speaker…)

    So you’ve got nothing. But as soon as people stop pointing out exactly how you’ve lied here, you’ll go back to your original lying statement.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  62. Rafer Janders says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Actually, even better, when I tell my assistant “thanks so much for your help today” it’s actually the same as me SPECIFICALLY STATING that she helped me with non-work related matters since the average person who hears “help” doesn’t think of the word help in a work-related context…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  63. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Rafer Janders: But in my firm, and in every firm I’ve ever worked at, professionals routinely use “personal files” to describe files stored on their computer’s hard drive and/or work-related files generated by them personally, as opposed to networked and/or group-accessible files.

    Again, you jackhole, you’re citing discussions with people who have a clue. Lerner’s own words:

    My computer skills are pretty basic, so nothing fancy — but there were some documents in the files that are irreplaceable.

    But again, you’re rejecting any possible interpretation but the one that lets you keep arguing that this was all a big nothing, that Lerner hadn’t spent the last 15 years using her appointed offices to go after conservatives, and everything that is not a notarized and signed in blood confession as irrelevant.

    Why don’t we ask the IT guy she was e-mailing how he took the e-mail? Or ask about any followup?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

  64. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    But again, you’re rejecting any possible interpretation but the one that lets you keep arguing that this was all a big nothing,

    You are the one that asserted her email ”specifically says that the files in question are not her work-related e-mails.” We have all pointed out that that is a reading of her email that strains credulity and does not comport with common workplace usage. You were the one that rejected ”any possible interpretation but the one that let’s you keep arguing” that it was an intentional cover up on her part. Of course when you were called on that absurdity you came back and claimed that it was us that failed to read the nuance in your bald assertions.
    What do you think an IT guy would do in response to that email? Do you think he would try to recover all the documents on the drive or would he filter through what he could find and only recover the ones he deemed ‘personal’? Do you think she secretly gave him a list of the specific files she wanted recovered or the files she specifically didn’t want recovered? Thinking that IT would respond to that request in any way other than trying to recover all data files (.doc, .pst, etc.) displays a staggering level of (willful?) ignorance.

    Why don’t we ask the IT guy she was e-mailing how he took the e-mail? Or ask about any followup?

    Ask away, but prepared to be disappointed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  65. David M says:

    I’m taking advantage of your offer to try and recapture my lost personal files. My computer skills are pretty basic, so nothing fancy — but there were some documents in the files that are irreplaceable.

    The idea that this request wouldn’t cover emails only stored locally on that hard drive is not worth taking seriously. So it makes sense why it appeals to some on the loony right.

    It’s the equivalent to claiming “do you want to go out to lunch” should be read as specifically excluding the idea that food will be eaten as well, because it wasn’t explicitly mentioned.

    That’s not plausible, possible or even probable. It is however, utterly moronic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  66. Mikey says:

    @Grewgills:

    What do you think an IT guy would do in response to that email?

    IT guy here–I’d try to recover the whole drive and then pull off the “My Documents” folder and anything else on the drive that looked like stuff a user would generate. If I saw one or more .pst files, I would absolutely and without hesitation recover those. They are “personal files” too.

    I’d basically pull off everything that wasn’t a program of some sort and let the user pick and choose what he/she wants to keep.

    Really, trying to parse a simple request for support like this is just silly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  67. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    But again, you’re rejecting any possible interpretation but the one that lets you keep arguing that this was all a big nothing,

    This is the same poster who previously said that Lerner’s email ”specifically says that the files in question are not her work-related e-mails” — which is a blanket, non-nuanced, definitive claim.

    Then, when called out on the lie that there is not actually any “specific statement” to that effect in the email, he immediately backtracks and claims that “‘Taking advantage’implies that recovering the files in question are NOT the IT guy’s specific responsibility, which would be recovering work-related files. And “personal files,” used in conjunction with “taking advantage,” strongly indicates that the files are NOT work-related” based on the supposed fact that “the average person who hears ‘personal’ files on a work computer would be speaking of non-work-related files.” [italics mine]

    So we’ve gone very quickly to the lie that Lerner “specifically states” something to the backup lie that it’s implied in conjunction with something strongly indicated based on what the average person who doesn’t work in an office thinks….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  68. Guarneri says:

    Heh.

    “I’m a DOJ lawyer, so you obviously cannot use my name or any identifying information. But the idea that a “hard drive crash” somehow destroyed all of Ms. Lerner’s intra-government email correspondence during the period in question [2009-2011] is laughable. Government email servers are backed up every night. So if she actually had a hard drive fail, her emails would be recoverable from the backup. If the backup was somehow also compromised, then we are talking about a conspiracy.”

    And now six more relevant people’s emails.

    Golly gee willikers. Such bad luck.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  69. DrDaveT says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    But Lerner is clearly not an IT professional — see her comment about her expertise — and wouldn’t have the same mindset.

    Perhaps not at first, no — but you are quoting the last email in the exchange, not the first one. I know your preconceptions about Lerner lead you to think that she is too stupid to adopt the IT guy’s terminology in the course of that interaction, but that’s about you.

    And I repeat, there aren’t any “personal files” in the sense you are talking about on IRS-issued computers. They are very serious about the work-related-material-only rule.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  70. DrDaveT says:

    @Guarneri:

    So if she actually had a hard drive fail, her emails would be recoverable from the backup.

    And so they were — for the six months prior to the crash that hadn’t been overwritten yet by the rolling backup program.

    I can’t tell whether your comment was meant to be taken as parody or not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  71. Just Me says:

    And apparently the IRS has lost the emails of 6 more people-one is convieniently the person who gave Lerner the to ahead to send tax information to the justice department.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  72. David M says:

    @Just Me:

    So? Given the ridiculous GOP response to the Lerner emails, why should anyone believe their claims about the other emails? You know, boy who cried wolf and all…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  73. Eric Florack says:

    The IRS IS LYING.
    PERIOD.

    Even assuming her desktop quit,what of the server? What of backup tapes of that server?
    I’m telling you as someone who made his living as an IT guy for 20 years, the claim is bogus.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  74. Rick DeMent says:

    The only reason Lerner is not being extended immunity is because the GOP grifters know for a fact that there is nothing there to beat Obama over the head with and her testimony would pretty much end their ability to make headlines with this PoS “scandal”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  75. DrDaveT says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Even assuming her desktop quit,what of the server? What of backup tapes of that server?

    Amazing.

    Does Eric really not know that both of these questions have been answered — in the article, in the linked article, and in the comments above, repeatedly? Here we have a perfect encapsulation of the wingnut approach to research.

    He probably thinks he’s being downvoted for the polarity of his comment, rather than its inanity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  76. Eric Florack says:

    Thats just it, theyve NOT been answered.
    theyve been danced around.

    and it strikes me that this government that when it got caught trampling free speec rights of conservative groups, ‘lost’ E-mails proving such, is the very same government we are supposed to trust with our healthcare records.

    I want serious jail time for those responsible, as there damn sure would be at, say, a bank which lost such records, required by the government, particularly incidental to what amounts to a criminal investigation of the bank.

    alas, these are Democrats, so justice will never happen,

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  77. Eric Florack says:

    Afterthought..

    Does anyone offering the BS excuses I see being offered on this, would fly, in a situation of a private concern being investigated by government, where document retention is required?

    I don’t.
    We should accept it here, either.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  78. DrDaveT says:

    @Eric Florack:

    when it got caught trampling free speech rights of conservative groups

    Oh, please. It got caught profiling. Organizations that qualify for tax-exempt status got it. Nobody’s “free speech rights” were trampled, or even kicked in the shins.

    I still think the best IRS response to this whole thing would have been to say “Yeah, we always flag organizations that have “Tea Party” in the name, because 9 times out of 10 they don’t qualify for the status they’re claiming. We use rules of thumb like that because we’re not funded to fully scrutinize every application.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0