June 16th, 2014
03:19 PM ET
6 months ago

White House: Lerner emails lost in computer crash

(CNN) – A top White House official blamed a computer crash for the disappearance of emails from embattled former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner, echoing the explanation the agency gave Congress last week for the two years' worth of missing subpoenaed correspondence.

"I think it's entirely reasonable. And it's fact," incoming White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One Monday.

"You've never heard of a computer crashing before?" he asked.

After the IRS informed Congress of the missing emails last Friday, Republican lawmakers have accused the White House of a cover-up.

Earnest called those accusations "not at all surprising and not particularly believable," adding 67,000 emails "sent by or received by" Lerner have been offered to Congress.

Lerner, the former director of the IRS exempt organizations division, has invoked her constitutional right not to testify before Congressional committees investigating the agency's targeting of tea party and other interest-specific groups.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa subpoenaed her emails in an attempt to learn whether other agencies were involved in the targeting of those organizations.

The California Republican told CBS on Monday that Lerner's explanation for the missing emails is "just not believable."

"We have enough evidence of her wrongdoing that we want to review every email that she has sent or received. That's reasonable to do when you have someone who takes the fifth," he said.

"This is not about what you turn over. It is all about what you don't turn over."

Issa previously called the crash "convenient" for the Obama administration, adding that the supposed loss of Lerner's documents damages the credibility of claims that the IRS is complying with congressional requests to seek the truth.

In a statement, the IRS said that Lerner tried to recover her emails, which dated from January 2009 to April 2011, after her hard drive broke down but was unable to do so. The agency said it then worked backward to recover the missing emails from recipients of the messages.

CNN's Sara Fischer contributed to this report.


Filed under: Darrell Issa • IRS • Josh Earnest
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    Oh lord. Right wing conspiracy theories in 3....2.....1........Let er' rip.

    June 16, 2014 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  2. tom l

    Sniffit

    "I was trying to type a comment but my hard drive crashed and deleted all of my comments. I guess they're gone forever like the Lois Lerner emails.

    Now come on Sniffit and Co, you have to admit how shady that is. There's no way you can possibly believe that one, can you?"

    /golfclap...that's some champion irrelevance...gold star for you for today.
    =======

    I don't blame you; I wouldn't want to answer that question if I were you, either. But, here's the good news! It's now a relevant question again since CNN didn't bury this story on a Friday afternoon again...

    June 16, 2014 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  3. Lizzie

    ADD, admit nothing, deny everything and demand proof

    June 16, 2014 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Computers do crash, but I thought these types of records had to be kept on the email server, too.

    June 16, 2014 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  5. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    And never a mention that Lois Lerner is a republican appointed by the previous administration.... And why would they print that? They couldn't howl at the moon if the MSM actually told the truth.

    June 16, 2014 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  6. tom l

    They're blaming this on a computer crash and can't retrieve the emails?? Gosh, what are they going to do next...blame a major attack on the anniversary of 9/11 on an internet video???

    June 16, 2014 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  7. 2_indy1600

    When does Holder put the FBI on this?

    June 16, 2014 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    "You've never heard of a computer crashing before?" he asked."

    Well ... oops comes to mind.

    "Earnest called those accusations "not at all surprising and not particularly believable," adding 67,000 emails "sent by or received by" Lerner have been offered to Congress."

    67,000 emails huh? No doubt this was before the computer crashed? If so, one presumes Issa has gotten all he is going to get. If this was after the computer crashed ... well, Issa still has a great deal to work with.

    It's doubtful he's going find much more "mud" either way.

    June 16, 2014 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  9. Fair is Fair

    The computer crashed???? Well, it's better than "the dog ate it", I suppose.

    But it's an outright lie. Why didn't the 67,000 emails already given get lost in "the crash" as well? What about the server(s) from whence these emails originated? What about the backups? Don't tell me there aren't any, because if there's one thing that's certain in IT, it's redundancy.

    I don't buy it. Nope. Not one bit.

    June 16, 2014 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    "After the IRS informed Congress of the missing emails last Friday, Republican lawmakers have accused the White House of a cover-up."

    LOL! Nice whitewash CNN. The GOP/Teatrolls have been accusing the WH of a "cover up" almost from the

    "We have enough evidence of her wrongdoing "

    Except you don't, which is why you're still digging and not running through the streets crying victory and scheduling the impeachment hearings for which you are so desperately trying to manufacture a justification.

    "This is not about what you turn over. It is all about what you don't turn over."

    Well, that's about as close to an admission as I think we'll ever see that they're hunting elephants in the strawberry patches.

    June 16, 2014 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  11. Not So Fast

    In other words, the dog ate their homework.

    Trying using that excuse with the IRS goons and see how long how much time spend in jail.

    June 16, 2014 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  12. Would You Look at That

    How convenient...

    June 16, 2014 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  13. bigdoglv

    Sure I believe that, they haven't lied to me before. Please spare me.

    June 16, 2014 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  14. romymon

    Lerner's emails lost in computer crash? Yeah, right! Another Obama cover up being justified by his new Press Secretary Josh Earnest. What a name for a paid hack who will now be the chief conveyor of Obama's lies! Obama and his band of charlatans are poor excuses for human beings who are callous, shameless and have never heard of the word truth. It is not part of their vocabulary and to them the time-honored adage –Honesty Is The Best Policy–is hogwash! What a bunch of low lifes! If Lois Lerner still has at least an iota of decency left, she should tell Congress what she knows and stop hiding behind the 5th. To invoke the 5th means she is afraid the truth will come out because she will testify under oath! The American people surely deserve to know the truth about the corrupt Obama administration! Josh Earnest should look for the definition of his last name in the dictionary because he seems to have forgotten!

    June 16, 2014 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  15. Hector Slagg

    Humm!,
    It's all those democrat computers left by Harry Truman! No, that's not it! The dog ate them!

    June 16, 2014 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  16. R-oh

    This explains that rotten egg smell coming from WH and IRS. Whoever thinks that they lost these emails is wildly stupid. This was a coverup pure and simple. This admin. is the most vicious in american history. Its TEA time!!

    June 16, 2014 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  17. just asking

    so the obama administration expects the tech savy world to believe that two years worth of irs emails for one of the higher ups in the irs was being kept in one place, and only one place, on the hard drive of lois lerner's laptop? absolutely total lies and fabrication. if anything like this is even remotely possible then that is a major scandal by itself. these docuemnts are vital and critical parts of the us government irs operation. something is drastically wrong with the irs and our government.

    June 16, 2014 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  18. bill

    If you like your e mail you can keep your e mail period. This from the same people that will take over your health care "payments"

    June 16, 2014 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  19. Chris-E...al

    How convinced are you this is true . Dems rather climb a tree and lie than stand on gods green earth and tell the truth . So much for the oath and the bible they swear on the truth is not in them . No good in them .

    June 16, 2014 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  20. Ol' Yeller

    ""We have enough evidence of her wrongdoing that we want to review every email that she has sent or received"

    If you have enough evidence of her wrongdoing you would charge her Mr. issa, not go on another of your incessant fishing expeditions to try and revive this nontroversy. You can always tell when one of their trumped up stories is losing steam, they either create a new one or try and revive one of these old ones.
    Why has Mr. Issa not lifted one finger to investigate the allegations of millions of Sandy relief monies being withheld or doled out for purely political reasons?
    Why has Mr. Issa not lifted one finger to investigate the allegations of 24 billion dollars of taxpayer monies being wasted in the teabagger led shutdown of our Government?
    Why has Mr. Issa not lifted one finger to investigate the allegations of the House's failure to raise our debt cieling leading to the first downgrade of the USA"s credit rating in the history of our country leading us to pay billions more in interest fees over the years?

    Anybody want to discuss why Mr. issa seems more interested in some bush appointed low level bureaucrat in some IRS office's e-mails than he is in actually investigating these other crimes which appear to have involved large amount of mishandled taxpayer's dollars or a complete and utter disdain for fiscal responsibility?

    June 16, 2014 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  21. Name. willard

    Keep play games in the world right

    June 16, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  22. Kristine

    Oh please! This administration is SHAMELESS! Emails lost in a crash??? Mighty convenient, don't you think?

    June 16, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  23. Michelle Kelley

    Guess we better get Snowdon back to find them.

    June 16, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  24. Prof Fricke

    The Audacity of Nope: The Obama administration.

    June 16, 2014 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  25. Scott Stams

    Dear IRS,

    I lost my tax records for 2011 because my computer crashed. Are we cool?

    June 16, 2014 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
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