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.
The most transparent administration in history, eh?
Yeah, bcrunner, nothing ever came from those investigations. Lol. Kathy, how long after your retirement did you lose your sense of reality? Why would Obama scold the IRS if this is "just a witch hunt"?
Is it any surprise that a person who worked for the IRS (i.e. Kathy) supports the IRS??? smh
But keep repeating your mistakes...right, that's why we have people taking the 5th in front of Congress and others taking "early retirement" because of this. Take your head out of the sand.
Thanks for pointing out your bias from the start. You prove the point of the 'conspiracy nuts.'
As a former IRS employee, who worked very close to the Exempt Organizations division, this thing smells. Don't believe the employee above. Unaccountable bureaucrats can do anything. We need a hard investigation. Catch the wrongdoers!
This is hardly a "witch hunt"-even Lois Lerner, the head of the IRS division which reviews 501c 4 applications admitted the wrong doing. There is no question they politically targeted groups they didn't like, the question is how high up does it go, who is involved, and where does it stop.
Oh no, this story cannot be accurate. Obama's spokesman , Jay Carney, stated emphatically that only two low level IRS employees in the Cincinnati office were responsible for cooking up and carrying out the attacks al by themselves.
Everybody knows that Jay Carney would never lie!
As NPR said the other day, "where there's this much smoke, there's bound to be a fire".
These posts are the sure sign of stupidity in the Left. It is chilling to think that the IRS can do as it has. If the shoe were on the other foot, we would hear nothing but whailing and gnashing of teeth! Next time you get audited, pull the "I dont know card" and see where it gets you. Time to rid this country of Obama and all his ilk.
Why is this being done by the IRS and not the FBI? Those found to have used their positions to deny lawful government benefits for partisan reasons belong in jail. Those who lied to investigators or gave incomplete responses belong in jail.
Attention all leftists! We already know the IRS deliberately targeted conservative groups, this is fact admitted by the IRS. All the investigation is doing is to find out the who, why, when and the full extent. Get it? Still want to defend this?
The entire IRS should preserve its records. Just in case it is more than 88 people.
Kathy, was this 'before Obama'?
Mr. Obama should be working at IRS for Maya Sanchez because I am the pretty good at capturing your words in the United States of America.
I need to remember that one. "Sorry, IRS, I couldn't meet your deadline because of the volume of paperwork you are requesting."
if you think this is a witch hunt , you are correct. The IRS and White House hunted down Conservatives.
Oh wait, my bad.... how many DEMOCRATS investigate, investigated, investigated and DEMANDED DEMANDED DEMANDED the resignation of AG Alberto Gonzales??? "The congressional investigation into the firings essentially has stalled with Bush's claims of executive privilege, leaving Democrats with the option of a risky court fight. Gonzales also waited until Bush's political adviser Karl Rove, whom Democrats saw as the more enticing target of their inquiry, had announced his own departure, giving Rove what amounted to political cover until the end."
But pointing out the LIBERAL Double Standards and Hypocrisy is CLEARLY FUTILE!
Kathy, Glendale, AZ,
If it wasn't the employee's, then are you saying it was directly from the Obama administration?
Its a shame they should be persecuted for protecting the country against the right wing domination.
I'm sure Kathy thinks the White House et al has nothing to do with any of this as well. KoolAide..mmm... tasty
Do these comments from the far left.. . Witch Hunt.. . IRS did nothing wrong.. .? Really,.. . You do realize the IRS has apologized for their profiling of conservative groups. Did they not read the above article??? Talk about burying your heads in the sand. Shame on you small minded Democrats . The head of the IRS always takes the fifth amendment when questioned by Congress.
Witch Hunt? Two rogue employees were responsible. Gosh, now 88 IRS employees are now targeted. The IRS is evil.
The FBI should be investigating this, not the IRS.
Lois Lerner apologized. The IRS admitted what they did with the hope the MSM would sweep this, like everything else under the rug. One problem, the administration thought spying on reporters was ok and it turns out it wasn't.