June 16th, 2014
03:19 PM ET
5 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. Scott Stams

    Why not just ask the NSA for their copies of the emails?

    June 16, 2014 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  2. montabello

    Lies. We know it. They know it. He's a lame duck and he just doesn't care, not that he ever did.

    June 16, 2014 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  3. Chris-E...al

    Who do they think all of you democrats are anyway ?

    June 16, 2014 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  4. Donna

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

    DING! DING!! DING!!! Even Rudy NYC knows what a pile of manure the Obama administration assertion is. Any person that knows IT knows what a pile of manure they are expecting people to swallow. Did the adminstration also reveal how many other thousands of IRS people had their emails lost for two years? Oh, only Lois Lerner huh?

    But given the endless stream of lies from the Obama administration, is anybody really surprised with this?

    June 16, 2014 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  5. kurt

    Probably total BS from the white house.

    And also completely resonable. My company automatically purges e-mails from the central servers after 6 months or a year (can't remember which). At that point the only copies that are saved are the local copies that exist on my hardrive (and the other hard drives for those on the other end of the e-mails).

    If your harddrive dies... you lose the older e-mails.

    Do I believe that's what happened here? Nope. Is it going to be possible to prove that's not what happened? Nope.

    June 16, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  6. John

    Issa gonna cry when he can't get every e mail? Issa gonna throw a tantrum? Stay tuned!

    June 16, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  7. Harry Legg

    This lie just proves Obama is behind it all. Arrest Lerner and impeach the lying POTUS.

    June 16, 2014 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  8. John

    Issa he ever gonna Learn...er that she is smarter than he Issa?

    June 16, 2014 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  9. 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 "

    Beginning. lol

    As soon as they realized they couldn't prove their accusations, they switched to "cover up" mode.

    June 16, 2014 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  10. kurt

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

    Internal e-mail servers generally only save e-mails for at most a couple of years. Severs will recycle the storage space, so given a relatively short period of time the data is pretty much gone from the server. But the e-mails do get copied to your hard drive when you open them and even if you delete the e-mail it's unlikely that you overwrote the space... so experts should be able to recover the data.

    But if the harddrive crashes and the e-mails are old enough (in this case they're talking about 3-5 years ago)... then you probably don't have that data anymore. And in general, an organization that deals with private data (like tax records) will likely purge the e-mail records from their servers quicker rather then slower... perhaps only keeping 3-6 months worth of data on the servers.

    Again... I don't buy that her harddrive died. But if it did, their story would be completely legitimate.

    June 16, 2014 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  11. tom l

    And never a mention that Lois Lerner is a republican appointed by the previous administration"
    ====

    In the immortal words of Sniffit:

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

    Whether she is a repub or a dem bears zero relevance. The fact that our wonderful govt is trying to push a "we can't find it" line on the American public is offensive. How dumb do they think we are? Oh wait, don't answer that question. ;)

    June 16, 2014 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  12. Tony D

    And this is PRECISELY why the American people need to remove every Democrat from office in 2014 & 2016. They have turned the federal government into a giant criminal organization to target their politcal opponents and the American people and then will fabricate lies, even insanely bad lies, to cover their lawlessness. And the nation's top law enforcment? Justice Dept. and FBI? ALSO controlled by the Democrat Mafia. Nothing but pretend investigations that never happen.

    Wake up America!!

    June 16, 2014 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  13. Wilson

    I guess the American public never gets surprised by the thuggery from the powers to be. Terrorize folks with the scariest organization in Government for years and then lose the evidence. Obama is so ethically challenged I don't even know where to begin. Its a sad day but there will be a lot more to come under this hoodlum.

    June 16, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "The agency said it then worked backward to recover the missing emails from recipients of the messages."

    LOL. Anyone wanna guess why CNN deliberately put that sentence last? They've got most, if not all, of her emails and they know it. What a joke.

    If any are missing, they are between Lois Lerner, Republican appointed by a Republican, and whichever Republican handler was telling her to set this all up...she then deleted them all, which was destruction of evidence, and that's why she's claiming the 5th. Haha. Yes, GOPers/Teatrolls, we can invent conspiracy theories too.

    June 16, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "Whether she is a repub or a dem bears zero relevance."

    Of course it does...especially after watching them go completely insane for 6 years trying everything they could possibly think of to try to destroy this POTUS. Pretending it doesn't have any relevance is foolishness and just more of your false equivalence nonsense. You want so desperately for this to be a nontroversy that you'll say anything to defend the witch hunt.

    June 16, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  16. tom l

    This message is to the gang so I'll keep it really quiet..

    Pssssssstt. The Administration is lying to all of us. Shhhhh. We'll just keep it between us. ;)

    June 16, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    kurt

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

    Internal e-mail servers generally only save e-mails for at most a couple of years. Severs will recycle the storage space, so given a relatively short period of time the data is pretty much gone from the server. But the e-mails do get copied to your hard drive when you open them and even if you delete the e-mail it's unlikely that you overwrote the space... so experts should be able to recover the data.
    --------------------------
    Have you ever heard of Sarbanes-Oxley? It's a law that says many of these types of records must be kept for a specific period of time. I'm sure that you may have heard a radio commercial for companies that back records for businesses, particularly email. Emails have been legislated as qualifying as legal, binding documents because they can include digital signatures. If a salesman emails a price quote, then he is legally bound to the prices he quoted.

    BTW, Emails do not necessarily, or always, get copied to the end user's machine.

    June 16, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "I don't blame you; I wouldn't want to answer that question if I were you, either"

    Yawn. It's certainly fun watching you guys run around with your itsy bitsy pant-tents whenever you think you've scored a point on Obama or his administration though. Ultimately/predictably just proves flaccid, fizzles out and goes nowhere though.

    June 16, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC

    Scott Stams

    Why not just ask the NSA for their copies of the emails?
    ----------------------------
    Sorry, Scottie, but Snowden stole those copies.

    June 16, 2014 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  20. it must be said

    So now we need to call in all of the IRS IT higher ups as well as every lowly IT person involved with their email system for them to verify this insane fabrication. Let's see who is willing to perjure themselves to help maintain this cover up? The lying, deceitful, corrupt Obama administration is dying under the weight of all the lies they have told. And it is goin gto crush his party in 2014 & 2016 because the American people are not as stupid as they think we are.

    June 16, 2014 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  21. tom l

    Yawn. It's certainly fun watching you guys run around with your itsy bitsy pant-tents whenever you think you've scored a point on Obama or his administration though. Ultimately/predictably just proves flaccid, fizzles out and goes nowhere though.
    =====

    Actually, it's a LOT funnier to watch you guys do everything you can to defend the IRS. It's the freakin IRS!!! Good lord you know you've sunk to a new low when you have to defend the worst of the worst organizations out there.

    Perhaps a some point you will realize it's not about "scoring points" and your side (dems) winning. Some day you will realize that it's about "us" – as in the American public and not dems vs repubs.

    June 16, 2014 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  22. What Evs

    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.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    That's curious....Lois Lerner's husband, Michael Miles is a partner in an attorney firm that strongly supports Obama and this administration. Another one of the partners was nominated by Obama to be ambassador to Singapore. Must make for interesting dinner conversation given that Lois is such a staunch republican. Oh...and didn't Lois personally sign an exemption form for Obama's half brother after only a month application period?

    June 16, 2014 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  23. weebitwidd11e

    Please inform Jim Acosta that I have a bridge to sell him in Brooklyn and to please get in touch with me ASP. ;/ thank you.

    June 16, 2014 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  24. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Terrorize folks with the scariest organization in Government for years and then lose the evidence."

    Well ... to be clear, I've never felt "terrorized" by the IRS. In this little saga especially, I have no dog running. Fact is, I've never tried to apply as charitable tax exempt organization. I'm beginning to think maybe I should, though. Seems to be quite a profitable endeavor, all things considered.

    June 16, 2014 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    "Let's see who is willing to perjure themselves to help maintain this cover up? "

    Let's watch how fast the GOP/Teatrolls don't bother trying to go that far and just leave this alone, because it's better for them not to get proven wrong, as it helps to keep the nontroversy alive. They won't risk forensic analysis of the computers if they think there's even the slightest chance of finding out that yeah, her computer blew up at one point and lost everything. Moreover, they have most of the emails anyway...the IRS pulled them together from the recipients/senders, which were no doubt largely all internal and easily assembled by having everyone print out their emails to and from Lerner. I know, I know...the article doesn't point that out until the last sentence...for a reason...and hoping people like you will miss that fact is the reason.

    It's worth noting that they asked for emails all the way back to January 2009 when Obama wasn't even sworn in as POTUS yet. They're fishing, nothing more.

    June 16, 2014 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
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