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.
Great to be able to investigate oneself
"What difference, at this point, does it make?"
To those on the Democrat side if the political spectrum who are accusing Republicans of overreach I pity you. For if you cannot see the criminality in the harrassment and intimidation of your fellow Americans through the awesome power of the IRS as a frightening abuse of power then you are so blindly partisan you will accept any corruption.
Do you want America to remain America or are you willing to accept living in a banana republic as long as your guy is the tinpot dictator?
I believe the SEIU was involved in this; that the orders came through the union ranks and the actions were ignored by the IRS management.
The IRS has almost complete control over folks with any assets and a job. And for all those who don't feel threatened by the IRS because you have no assets and no job - just remember who it is that provides your "government" benefits.
This thing is getting MASSIVE! The fact that it is spreading to so many other offices, and the number of people involved indicates that this thing goes to the top. Also given the fact that the snarky IRS Commissioner (who was appointed by Bush but has only donated to Democrats) went to the White House 157 times tells you all you need to know. The previous IRS Commissioner went once!
I find it distressing that Americans are taking sides on this issue due to partisan loyalties. There is enough evidence introduced already to determine conclusively that the IRS targeting did occur. While it was conservative groups targeted, the real issue is the abuse of power that the government against its citizens. What if the targeted groups had been, African American, perhaps green and renewable energy groups, liberal groups? The outrage should be the same from all Americans in every one of those cases.
You know i really don't think they will find any wrongdoing. I think all the evidence has been or is being destroyed as we wait for them to hand over docs.
Hey Kathy, they've already admitted it!! Are you an idiot? The letter of the law? How about the first amendment. Read it when you get a chance.
The head of the IRS visited Obama in the WH 147 times. He visited Bush once in four years.
The day after the head of the IRS employees union (large Democratic donor) visited Mr. Obama in the WH, the targeting of conservative groups began.
I don't care what your political leanings are. Using a powerful federal agency to harass your political enemies is unethical, illegal, and absolutely offensive.
I think commentor "Kathy, Glendale, AZ" who is an IRS employee already has said it all. She unwittingly and ironically showed the problem with her own statements, Even though the in house inspector has found wrongdoing she claims this is all an GOP fantasy.
She doesn't get that targeting conservatives and not liberal gorups is itself a deep corruption.
The IRS is going to go through massive expansion due to its large role in policing implementation of Obamacare. That its craven employees, and perhaps others, used the IRS to attack civic groups who are critical of large government, and whom the c4 designation was designed for, is already a corruption of process and an attack on the civics and debate that makes our country function
Every comment on here is from loons, this admin is the most corrupt filth on the planet, you libitards are ruining this country, liberalism is a disease.
Case in point: Kathy from Glendale, a former IRS employee, calls the GOP "conspiracy nuts." And I'm supposed to believe that she, and everyone like her suffering from partisan paranoia syndrome, took their jobs seriously enough to have followed "IRS codes and Regs to the letter of the law."
BTW Kathy, Lerner and Miller have already admitted to wrong doing. If you think it stopped with them, then you're as gullible as you are paranoid.
You liberals who think there is nothing here or an over reach, you can'tbe that dumb? That's rhetorical of course.
Kathy...if you believe in what you said...you are the problem of what is happening in America and the downfall of everything that is good....you cannot believe what you said ,,,,if you do you are completely NAIVE or down right wrong...I will bet the farm you voted for obama
ONLY 88 people and not one will loose a days pay for the rest of their life.
Well Kathy, if your statement were true, the internal IG audit would be fraud, the IRS would not have needed to provide a public apology and Lois wouldn't have needed to take the 5th.
Kathy of Glendale,
The IRS has admitted it. With employees like you it is easy to see how they could get away with it. Just more "I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing".
"""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."""
See, you're exactly the type of hateful, power-hungry leftist that we're going to purge from the IRS.
The Obama administration has given "divisive" a whole new meaning. And everyone in this country knows, whether they are willing to admit it or not, that this disease permeates our entire culture. Not just Obama and the Democrats, but Hollywood, the Universities, the Newspapers, everwhere.
The radical liberal children of the 60's have been turning American conservatives and evangelicals into some caricatured demons for over two generations now. In every venue they could gain control of.
Liberals have gone Hitler, and we're the Jews.
IRS wants taxpayers to be honest. Now the shoe is on the other foot, taxpayers want the IRS to be honest. Fat chance for both to happen.
Didn't TIGTA already find wrongdoing?
I too worked for the feds (32 years) and will tell everyone, that it usually was not the low level employee, but it is a vast management cover-up and lie. It came from the top down. Low level employees may have taken it farther than intended, which is typical of workers in the system. Workers in the fed system do not take risks, do not try to save money, nor try to be more efficient nor try to understand what management wants. It is the worst kind of work place and the least productive. The IRS is guilty.
Anyone who thinks this is "nothing to see here" is a dumbocrat and serious CNN viewer. Anyone who thinks Obama is the precise person who started this is a real American. Anyone who thinks Obama will be impeached over committing this felony is just wishing and hoping because CNN & MSNBC will do anything to protect "The One" at the expense of the American people and they will prevail. Very sad actually that CNN and liberals care more about the monster in America's White House than Americans.
It is getting old to hear people keep saying "nothing to see here". I am an independent. I voted and worked for Clinton's first campaign. I admit I lean to center right. However, everyone knows that if this would have been during the Bush Administration we couldn't have turned on TV without televised hearings. Democrats would have ensured a special counsel would have been appointed. This IRS scandal appears to be voter suppression of conserviative groups. Isn't this what Democrats are always claiming for themselves. Worst yet this was purposely going on during election times. The real concern here is that no matter what your political persuasion the IRS no purpose conducting themselves this way. It is ironic how the IRS doesn't want to be audited.. funny.