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, just because YOU didn't see it doesn't mean it didn't happen. Absolute power corrupts and people are human. Way to many people and groups have said the allegations are true against the IRS so, "where there is smoke there is fire". Way to many in this country have blinders on. Wake up.
The IRS missed a deadline? I wonder if congress will fine them. Complete IRS overhaul NOW!
I was dinged on this site the other day for daring to suggest that words like "targeting" are inappropriate, and was told that since the IRS said it was inappropriate, it must be inappropriate.
But I unequivocally disagree. So far, we know that groups parading names with "patriot" and "tea party" were flagged when they tried to get out of paying their taxes. What is NOT YET determined is if that flagging process was driven by political malice. If the IRS wants to cower before Darrell Issa and agree to the terms of the debate set by him, that's their lookout - but that has NOTHING to do with the case. If it's shown that political malice was used against "tea party" groups, then I'll be demanding that the Cincinnati employees be fired or prosecuted along with the rest of you. But let's also be clear: I don't want to pay more taxes because political groups have found loopholes to avoid paying THEIRS. I'm GLAD they had to jump through hoops. Why shouldn't they pay their taxes?
Pay your taxes, conservatives.
So the IRS admits to targeting conservative groups and the liberal readers of CNN call it a witch hunt??
Good news is that the NSA is saving all of our emails, phone calls and probably thoughts for times like these. So even if the IRS destroys the docs – NSA can find them.
Issa should be investigated. The President has more important stuff to deal with than the IRS and Issa and his group of nothing.
Folks dont read very well...bipartisan "witch hunt." take off teh blinders and come to grips that a very typical chicago style politician is in the white house on an endless 8 year campaign with little interest in governing. And you and me and the rest of us are paying the price
".....yes, there were a small number of lower level people who exceeded their authority." These political ideologues will lie, cheat, and steel. They can not be trusted. They should not be in a position of trust in or out of government.
Yeah. This is the worst breach of trust against the citizens of this country I can think of. An absolute abuse of power, whether by design or incompetence. And worse: it's still getting worse. Are we likely to find the depth and breadth of this scandal? I seriously doubt it. There are laws against doing what's been done by these servants of the state. Prosecution to the fullest extent of the law is the first step they should take in fixing this. The IRS is now beyond the pale when it comes to doing the business of the people after this. I can see no remedy in fixing this except sending a lot of people to jail.
When and if we get to the bottom of this, we will uncover a massive effort by the Obama administration to use the entire federal government to persecute and intimidate its political opponents just like in any other third world socialist regime. This involves not just the IRS, but also the FBI, CIA, DOJ, EPA, Department of Labor and Homeland Security
Don't kid yourselves, the IRS still wields a lot of power. They have for decades and will not give it up. I know people who have been audited, it is not a democratic process in any way shape or form.
This administration is just so disappointing on so many levels. To have started out with such high hopes and now to see Obama descend into the sewer pit is just infuriating. At best his flowery words were empty, at worst he just lies and distorts.
I'll remember how "Republicans are generally the wealthy in this country" the next time I see Democrats drive up in their limousines, fly in their corporate jets, and attend posh $1000/plate galas.
The Dems have you so fooled that you cannot see the evidence in front of your face. Do you not know that those evil Wall Street bankers gave more money to Obama than McCain in 2008, and more to Obama than Romney in 2012?
But I'm wasting my breath, because you are obviously bought and paid for by the Obama machine - you actually believe all their disinformation.
I bet the Obama Regime throws all 88 IRS employees under the bus.
Once they are scheduled for a long prison term, some of the 88 will start talking. Those who talk first will get the best plea deals.
Sounds like people are mad their Marxist double agent in the White House has to take the heat for crimes committed against the people under his watch. Waaaaahhhhh
I think MR.ISSA should be name to head the IRS
I wouldn't be surprised if the trail ends up at David Axlerod, David Pflouffe, and Valerie Jarrett's desks.
This has very little with the IRS. Focus on who really started this ball rolling down hill. Obama, Holder.
to everyone who 'scoffs' at the notion that this hasn't been going on since before President Obama. READ! This policy began in APRIL 2010. Did you catch that? APRIL 2010. Just before the MIDTERM ELECTIONS and through the 2012 PRESIDENTIAL election. This is NOT an ongoing, decade-long fiasco. Every American should be very disturbed when a government agency starts targeting citizens because of political affiliation. Then again, it's IRONIC to the point of ABSURD that Mitt Romney called-out the 47% during the campaign, because the people that have 'no skin in the game' (i.e. don't pay ANY taxes) have nothing to fear from a rogue IRS. Right?
And these are the loony tunes who are going to run Oblammycare? LOL For the funny side of Oblammycare click here,you'll laugh yourself sick..........
Ironic. That the IRS, are the same people, the Obama administration has given the power to run and regulate Obama-care. Scary.
FYI – It came from the Washington bureau they have already admitted that, NOT Cincinnati as they were just following orders. Yeah I know you guys are praying there is no smoking email linking this to the WH, good luck because someone in the Presidents camp did this (and no I don't think Obama knew about it, however someone running his re-election sure as heck knew).
Conservative groups are doing the tax dodge- they should be targeted- any group dodging taxes should be audited, left or right. If environmental activists can't get a right off why should anti- environmental groups?
The IRS has been terrorising us for decades. So, it's good the politically minded have had taste of it and now have dog in this fight against the FED and the IRS...
so the IRS was harrassing natural born generational American citizens, and yet the radical islam terrorists continue to appear on American shores praying at local Mosques, and NOT 1 of the stories concern the IRS reveiwing those members taxes, nor the mosques taxes....leads one to believe the IRS is loaded with those types?