Updated 5:49 p.m. ET Friday 5/31
Washington (CNN) – The Internal Revenue Service has told House GOP investigators they have identified 88 IRS employees who may have documents relevant to the congressional investigation into targeting of conservative groups, according to a congressional source familiar with the investigation.
The IRS asked these employees to preserve all the "responsive documents" on their computers, and it has been in the process of collecting it all to comply with congressional requests for information. The IRS missed its May 21st deadline to turn over documents to the House Ways and Means Committee.
The same source said the IRS argues it missed its deadline because of the scope of documents it is collecting.
The request for documents was a bipartisan one, but Republicans are privately preparing to seize on the fact that if nearly 90 IRS employees may have been somehow involved in this targeting, it is evidence that the controversy extends well beyond the mistakes by a few low level employees.
However, with no documents in hand, there is no way to know how many of the employees being asked to preserve documents were truly involved in the activity in question. The IRS, in a statement to CNN, said the large number reflects its effort to ensure they are as responsive as possible to the Congressional requests.
"The IRS and Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel are moving aggressively and taking the data requests very seriously. As a precautionary measure, the IRS is casting a wide net to capture any potentially related materials. Our goal is to be exceedingly thorough during this process to ensure we identify any and all pertinent records," the IRS statement said. "The IRS has received numerous congressional requests involving an extensive set of questions and calls for data. Responding to these requests is a top priority for us. We have been in contact with committee staff, and we continue to provide them updates as we diligently work through these requests."
READ MORE: Did IRS chief really visit White House 157 times?
The IRS is responding to multiple Congressional requests for information and struggling to meet the deadlines. According to a Senate Finance Committee aide, the IRS told the committee it will also miss Friday's deadline to produce documents relevant to the tea party targeting.
In a joint statement from the press offices of Sens. Max Baucus and Orrin Hatch, the committee's Democratic chairman and its top Republican, said they were disappointed and that the agency needed to do better.
"This is an agency that revolves around making the American taxpayer meet hard deadlines each and every year when they file their taxes, oftentimes penalizing those that are late," the statement said.
READ MORE: House investigators questioning IRS Cincinnati workers
More problems are on the horizon for the IRS. Rep. Darrell Issa, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, will hold a hearing next week on an audit of the agency's "spending culture and conference abuses."
The committee will focus on the report released by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) that shows excessive spending at IRS conferences.
Werfel said in a statement that the report will focus on an IRS conference that took place in 2010 and labeled it an "unfortunate vestige from a prior era."
"While there were legitimate reasons for holding the meeting, many of the expenses associated with it were inappropriate and should not have occurred," he said, adding new rules have been put in place and such a conference will not happen under his watch.
Kathy it has already been confirmed that the IRS targeted conservative groups seeking tax exempt status while ignoring liberal groups. What they are trying to find out now is who gave the order. I find it strange that Kathy Kelly the Treasury Employees Union President (NTEU) visited the WH on March 31st and this activity began on April 1st. Coincidence? Possibly. While I don't believe the order came from the WH, I do believe the atmosphere fostered by the Obama Administration to those of different view points helped generate this type of activity.
Sure Kathy. That's why the IRS apologized for "inappropriate" behavior. Why would they apologize if they had done nothing wrong? BCrunner, I don't know if Obama is a crook, but he certainly lies a lot...as does much of his administration. He lied about Obamacare, Guantanamo Bay, Sequestration, Benghazi, etc.
The use of the executive branch in all its power and fury to actively target and destroy Obama's political enemies is the sort of thing one expects to find in corrupt nations like Belarus, not America. Heads need to roll and keep rolling until justice is done. Firing these IRS thugs is not enough, put them in prison.
As for your comment Chris Grosskoph, destruction of evidence and obstruction of justice are federal crimes with significant penalties. If they have destroyed evidence that fact can easily be determined using computer forensics. Your average IRS schlub will have no clue how to thoroughly destroy computer evidence. And if they did bring in technically competent people to help them destroy evidence, even that fact will be discernible using computer forensics.
This is not a witch hunt. We need to revamp the tax collection system so it cannot be misused. A Fair, Flat or Consumption Tax would take the politics out of collecting revenue. Both sides of the aisle are coming to this conclusion.
As a former IRS employee (retired after 32 years) I think all of this is just a "witch hunt" to satisfy the stupid, conspiracy nuts GOP. It is none of the stupid GOPs business if we targeted them. I have known IRS employees (and I worked in several offices), who didn't take their jobs seriously to disenfranchise stupid GOP voters.
Of course, Kathy in Glendale, AZ...maybe the next republican administration should target libturds...I've always been a firm believer in 'EXPERIENCE IS THE BEST TEACHER'. Sometimes libturds are too stupid to realize how horrible something is unless it happens to them. I don't care who is in office..targeting people based on their differences is against the law. You can call it a "witch hunt" but that only shows your ignorance and/or denial
Article #2 of the Nixon impeachment was the abuse of power for using the investagtive power of the IRS to advance his agenda. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.
Shows you exactly why Progressives want to control all levers of government...especially the IRS. A few selective targetings are just the beginning..wait until Odummycare kicks in and the overwhelming power of the IRS at that time. One note to you Progressives (i.e. commies, socialists, etc), what comes around goes around...I don't want to hear you complain, nor the media types like CNN, when a Republican Admin targets you for the same treatment...will you be crying foul then? Intellectually inept you are.
@Kathy- Any taxpayer wants to trust the IRS. It only makes sense. Although, the IRS admitted to the charges and apologized. You appear to be an honest person, but it is impossible for you to speak for the IRS as a whole. If you dislike the GOP- that's okay, but this goes beyond party lines. What if you or your family were targeted? Would you feel the same way? As for the president- I want to trust him, too. It is his circle of appointees that I find very troubling.
Kathy, have you been paying attention? The IRS already admitted wrongdoing. This isn't a question of if but of how much.
IRS has admitted targeting conservative groups. So Kathy, your arguement does not hold water.
As a taxpayer and US citizen, I would like to see a special prosecutor involved in this case. Kathy, this is not a "witch hunt." Groups were unfairly targeted because of their political stance. Who is responsible?
Perhaps Viper Issa would actually find some laws broken and some real scandal if he were to investigate the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Kathy, Glendale, AZ
And you are the problem. If you think this is a witch hunt. Jerk
Your comments make sense libs. Same ones Nixon made. "there's no there- there". Pardon me while I chuckle to myself some more. You know you're getting close to the truth when the smoke billows and the whiney whiners start to whine!
We are now dealing with the most corrupt, the most EVIL, administration in this country's history. Of course the Democrats will circle the wagons around Obama, but the truth will always prevail in the end. I live in hope of the day we can shout, "Free at last, free at last! Thank God Almighty we are free at last!"
Kathy and bcrunner – What part of this IRS scandal don't you understand? The IRS as well as your beloved Obama have stated the scandal is real. There are plenty of Democrats on board with this investigation and for you to deny it reveals how ignorant, uneducated and politically bias you are. I simply don't get you lefties. The IRS was used as a political weapon to deny conservative groups the organization they sought, period.
Kathy, Glendale, AZ, you might have done your job, but your office has NOTHING to to with tax exempt status applications. It's exclusively done in that Ohio office. Please refrain from making wagers because you will lose on this one. IRS, FBI, DOJ all fall under exec branch with its head directly appointed by the POTUS. In this particular case, IRS head went to white house 4 times more than even Clinton.... you are telling me our fearless leader did not implicitly, or explicitly show desire for these conservative effort to be impeded and go one step further to imply he has no clue and only learned from news..... Let's get real here. Even if IRS is taking orders, they are breaking laws by targeting... period.
The employees at the bottom were set-up by their bosses.
It seems IRS targeting is fine as long as it focuses on your political enemies. Both parties are guilty of this! Anyone who states otherwise is denying history. Politics is just another game played out to maintain power at any cost! If the tax code were not so screwed up, we would not even need the IRS! Go to a flat tax or national sales tax and stop all of this. One sure way to stop abuse at the IRS would be to get rid of the need for it in the first place. Now there is talk the IRS will be expanding and taking up the role of enforcing Obamacare. When will we wake up from this nightmare
bcrunner – I can give you the benefit of doubt and that Obama is not a crook. Then his white house is filled with some very bad company. He needs to either choose to clean house or have his legacy as the least transparent and shady period in politics.
And police officers sworn to uphold the law never choke and beat innocent people to death, nor do they ever frame or lie on their police reports to favor them. There are only 100K+ IRS employees and I doubt there are any rotten apples in that lot..
Shish Kathy... YOU are another perfect example of a mentally ill liberal. Keep drinking the koolaid and do all the people that have lost their life over YOUR perfect irs a favor and just fade back into your tax paid retirement crap hole of life...
H older will leave in a month or so.
A special prosecutor will be assigned.
I don't blame the low level minions – they are just willing tools of a bias pro liberal union organization.
People will go to jail – new "guidelines" will be put in place.
Chicago gangsta's – most transparent administration – worst president in USA history – Hope you Obama voters are proud!
As one of the conspiracy nuts that the former IRS employee Kathy from Glendale AZ was referring to allow me to say that current evidence presented, thank God for conspiracy nuts. Their the only ones who led to the exposing the criminal actions at the IRS. With government employees like Kathy willing to justify the IRS actions it's clear how something like this could fester for the years. Every employee at the IRS that was involved should be sent to jail, even the fantatical elitists like Lerner and her bosses. Whether or not her bosses were involved in the actual suppression and intimidation of americans, they are guility of allowing a fanatical partisan to use her office for a true partisan witch hunt.