IRS backup tapes discovered!
You can tell that this is a huge story because the Mainstream Media are completely ignoring it, leaving Fox News the privilege of continuing to break the story that could well be bigger than Watergate. It requires a bit of reading between the lines (though not a lot) to grasp what is going on.
Yesterday, IRS head John Koskinen revealed in testimony before Darrell Issa’s House Oversight Committee (via Fox):
...that investigators looking into missing emails from ex-agency official Lois Lerner have found and are reviewing "backup tapes" -- despite earlier IRS claims that the tapes had been recycled.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, testifying before a House oversight subcommittee, stressed that he does not know "how they found them" or "whether there's anything on them or not." But he said the inspector general's office advised him the investigators are reviewing tapes to see if they contain any "recoverable" material.
The revelation is significant because the IRS claimed, when the agency first told Congress about the missing emails, that backup tapes "no longer exist because they have been recycled."
It is unclear whether the tapes in IG custody contain any Lerner emails, but Koskinen said investigators are now checking.
To unpack this revelation, start with the fact that, as Charles Krauthammer put it yesterday on Special Report, Koskinen is practicing “strategic ignorance.”
Koskinen is a savvy lawyer who realizes that if he does not inform himself of the detailed facts, he can present testimony under oath that there is no information to his knowledge about sensitive topics, without triggering perjury liability. He has already employed this tactic multiple times in presenting incorrect information to the Issa Committee, based on his failure to inform himself. He continued this yesterday by claiming that becase the Inspector General’s Office is making an inquiry, he is not raising questions himself, as if there were some sort of rule that an IG investigation means others must not ask questions. (There isn’t any such prohibition.)
Clarice Feldman comments:
I think he's just continuing his distancing from the facts. It's not "necessarily" her tapes, but I presume it's all the emails from the IRS backup consultant. The IRS head is playing a shrewd Sgt. Schultz DC game. (I suppose the original tasking to find out if there were any of her discs still around was handed off to some summer intern.)
So we are left to speculate about what is really going on here, in the absence of any effort on Koskinen’s part to inform himself, leaving his story vague in the extreme.
Where did the backup tapes come from?
The most likely source is the company Sonasoft, which contracted with the IRS in 2005 to provide legally-mandated backup services. The IRS mysteriously terminated its contract with Sonasoft just a few weeks after Lois Lerner’s hard drive “crashed” (or was “scratched,” as we learned a couple of days ago). Having “recycled” the Lerner hard drive and cancelled the contract, the officials in charge of the cover-up assumed that Sonasoft would have disposed of the tapes. My guess is that Sonasoft didn’t, and that’s where the tapes were found by officials doing the investigation, probably on the IG’s office.
Clarice Feldman’s viewis similar, which is always a good sign:
Here's what I think happened.The head of the IRS tried not to do much--and the people selected to respond reported back that the tapes had been destroyed. He was deliberately incurious. Then it turned out there was an outside company making backups. Once two judges insisted the IG, DoJ and IRS officials make a full report, some digging was done. It had been assumed that when the IRS cancelled the contract the backups were lost -- at least 6 months after the cancellation which is as long as the contractor was obligated to hold them. Digging found out they still had them. If this is the scenario the incurious IRS officials can't be prosecuted for perjury but the truth will come out.
The strategy has always been to defer release of details and denounce the investigation, while counting on the media to ignore the story. But, contrary to the hopes and expectations of the spinmeisters, the story isn’t gong away, even as other stories (the many crises of the Obama presidency) proliferate. Issa is not intimidated, Fox realizes the magnitude of what has happened, and Obama has lost the trust of the American people.
The consensus is: it’s no accident. More than three-quarters of voters -- 76 percent -- think the emails missing from the account of Lois Lerner, the ex-IRS official at the center of the scandal over targeting of conservative groups, were deliberately destroyed.
That’s according to a new Fox News poll.
That suspicion is shared across party lines, albeit to varying degrees. An overwhelming 90 percent of Republicans think the emails were intentionally destroyed, as do 74 percent of independents and 63 percent of Democrats.
Overall, just 12 percent of voters believe the emails were destroyed accidentally. Another 12 percent are unsure.