White House knew of destroyed emails two months before Congress
Congressional investigators have released tesimony showing that an attorney for the IRS told the Treasury Department counsel of the destroyed emails, who then passed the information on to the White House. The conversations took place in April - two months before the IRS told Congress of the destruction of evidence.
Republican lawmakers have suggested that the agency collaborated with the Treasury Department and the executive’s office to control the damage of the IRS targeting scandal.The White House learned about the e-mail issues in April, two months before the IRS informed Congress about the matter.
In closed-door testimony with House Oversight and Government Reform Committee staff, IRS attorney Catherine Duval said she told Treasury counsel Hannah Stott-Bumsted about the missing e-mails, which were requested by congressional committees. A Fox News affiliate first revealed the conversation in a report Monday.
Duvall and Stott-Bumsted worked together at a D.C. law firm before joining the government. They’re also friends, according to Duvall.
“I was seeking to have a conversation with a colleague,” Duvall said. “I think that talking to appropriate colleagues about issues that you’re working on can sharpen your thinking.”
Duvall added: “I don’t think that Commissioner Koskinen would be surprised that I was talking to Ms. Stott-Bumsted. But Commissioner Koskinen would not know about particular conversations or the content of particular conversations.”
Duvall’s testimony provides a starting point for congressional investigators who want to determine which e-mails could provide evidence of wrongdoing, specifically collaboration between the White House, the Treasury Department and the IRS.
Koskinen has testified that he did not direct anyone to talk to Treasury or the White House about the missing e-mails. He practically challenged Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who heads the House oversight panel, to prove otherwise.
When asked whether Koskinen “caused” anyone at the White House, Treasury Department or the IRS inspector general’s office to find out about the missing e-mails, the IRS chief said: “I did not, and if you have any evidence of that, I’d be happy to see it.”
Duvall's attempt to spin the conversation as being innocent falls flat. The White House had to be intensely interested in information from the IRS scandal, particularly any information that would be damaging. It's hard to believe that the Treasury lawyer - who had a direct conduit to the White House - wouldn't use that connection to give the White House a heads up on something as potentially explosive as thousands of missing emails from a principle target of the investigation.
Koskinen himself may not be responsible for the transfer of information. But he now has the evidence he requested that such a transfer took place. What's he going to do about it?
Don't hold your breath if you're expecting any disciplinary action against Duvall.
Hat Tip: Ed Lasky