08.27.2014 1

Missing IRS emails were backed up, Justice Dept. admits to Judicial Watch

noIRSBy Robert Romano

Judicial Watch has once again shown up congressional investigators on the missing IRS email snafu.

This time, according to the organization’s president Tom Fitton, “Department of Justice attorneys for the Internal Revenue Service told Judicial Watch on Friday that Lois Lerner’s emails, indeed all government computer records, are backed up by the federal government in case of a government-wide catastrophe.  The Obama administration attorneys said that this back-up system would be too onerous to search.”

Too onerous?

These are the same emails that House committees were told were supposedly lost over two years relevant to continued Congressional investigations of the agency targeting of tea party and other 501(c)(4) non-profit groups thanks to believed hard drive crashes.

The missing emails cover the critical inception of the targeting, dating from January 2009 to April 2011, when a supposed computer crash led to the data loss.

At the time the data loss became public, the New York Times reported that “because of financial and computing constraints, some emails had been stored only on individuals’ computers and not on servers, and that ‘backup tapes’ from 2011 ‘no longer exist because they have been recycled.”

What a load of you know what.

The seeming cover-up in progress prompted House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La) to expand their search, subpoenaing the missing IRS emails to other federal offices, including the White House, White House, Treasury, Justice, and the Federal Election Commission.

Now we know per the Justice Department admission that the emails still exist. All of them. Fitton promised that “You can bet we are going to ask the court for immediate assistance in cutting through this massive obstruction of justice.”

The House committees might go to court, too, if they want to get their hands on the emails. Can it really be that a Freedom of Information Act request is more powerful than a congressional subpoena? Such a development would fly in the face of common sense, yet here we are. Judicial Watch will apparently be getting to the bottom of this scandal long before the House does.

But House committees need not sit on the sidelines waiting for the administration to continue stonewalling the subpoenas.

In Eastland v. U.S. Servicemen’s Fund (1975), the Supreme Court enforced a Senate subcommittee subpoena. That case was originally initiated by the U.S. Servicemen’s Fund against Sen. James Eastland (D-Miss.) in District Court, which dismissed the request that the subpoena be invalidated. The organization then appealed in the Circuit Court, and won. Ultimately, Eastland went to the Supreme Court, and won the case, and the subpoena was enforced.

This is actually something the House commitees could go to court over — as opposed to suing the Obama administration over the year-long delay of the health care law’s employer mandate, an issue that appears will be moot come January when it is finally implemented. That is, if courts even rule the House has standing to raise the suit.

What a seeming waste of time, and in the meantime, what is contained in the missing IRS emails could be the greatest scandal since 1974, when then-special prosecutor Leon Jaworski issued a subpoena for the infamous White House tapes. Those tapes were the critical bit of evidence that might prove Richard Nixon was involved in the Watergate scandal and cover-up.

Nixon refused, claiming an absolute executive privilege against judicial proceedings.

It led to a landmark Supreme Court ruling, U.S. v. Nixon, which compelled the President to turn over the tapes. On one tape, eighteen minutes were missing — as the White House claimed that Nixon’s secretary Rose Mary Woods accidentally deleted it. We’ll never learn what was contained. But fifteen days later, facing an imminent impeachment, Nixon resigned.

Ultimately, it is up to the House committees to conduct their business in the manner they believe to be most effective. But now that they know the missing emails were indeed backed up, there is no excuse for allowing the administration to continue to pretend otherwise. It’s time to take off the gloves.

Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government. 

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