IRS agrees to hand over emails to Issa
March 26th, 2014
02:46 PM ET
9 years ago

IRS agrees to hand over emails to Issa

(CNN) - Following heated exchanges with House Republicans, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen on Wednesday told a congressional committee that he will hand over all of the emails of Lois Lerner, the former IRS official under investigation for the agency's targeting of conservative groups.

But Koskinen also told frustrated Republicans that producing all the documents the committee wants will take "years," indicating that the matter is far from settled.

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"If you want them all, I will give them all to you," Koskinen told the House Oversight Committee, which has subpoenaed every email from the IRS accounts of Lerner and a handful other staffers connected to the investigation.

Lerner oversaw the division determining tax-exempt status and retired after an inspector general's report found it used inappropriate methods when looking at conservative and other groups.

The agreement to hand over all of her emails is a new position for the IRS and came only after members had repeatedly demanded a firm yes or no on the issue.

Koskinen has previously said the agency would cooperate with the investigation, but until now the agency has limited the documents to those found using certain search terms, like "tea party," related to the investigation.

But by expanding to include every Lerner email, Koskinen warned lawmakers the effort will take enormous amounts of time. That is because the agency is restricted by law from divulging taxpayers' confidential details.

To ensure no accidental disclosure, Koskinen said the IRS is must go through Lerner's emails one-by-one to redact any such information before sending them to the committee.

"My guess is there is no way to get this information before the end of the year," the IRS chief said of the emails.

He later added that gathering all the information so far subpoenaed by the committee, including applications for tax exempt status, could take "years."

"This commissioner has no intention of complying with this duly issued subpoena!" fired out Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican. "When you have a duly issued subpoena, you comply with it."

The tense battle over email goes to the heart of the Republican investigation of IRS targeting of conservative groups.

Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, a California Republican, is trying to determine if political targeting was ordered from Obama administration officials outside the IRS, and he has focused on Lerner as a central figure.

During the committee's nearly year-long investigation, Lerner has repeatedly cited her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Issa disagrees with her over whether she waived that right and is considering filing contempt charges.

But as Republicans try to force Lerner to testify, they have also doggedly sought all of the documents she left behind at the IRS.

"I know you want to bring this investigation to a close as soon as possible," Issa told Koskinen. "And I do, too, but they only way you can do that is to comply with our request (to hand over all the e-mails)."

But Koskinen returned again and again to the scope of the committee's subpoena.

"In a court of law, when presented with that subpoena, a judge would not enforce it," he said.

The IRS chief said the search could produce over a million pages of emails, with most of them being irrelevant to the investigation.

Republicans dismissed his argument.

"What part of 'all' do you not understand?" asked Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican. "With all respect, we don't care what you think is relevant. We want them all."

The IRS has so far turned over more than 400,000 pages of documents for the investigation and planned to give the committee an additional 25,000 on Wednesday.

Koskinen said that the agency is still going through the more limited group of Lerner's emails, found by looking for specific search terms. Once that is done, he said, the IRS can start looking through her entire Inbox.

"You are going to get a lot of emails," Koskinen told the committee.

The stated agreement to handover emails did little to satisfy Republicans, who expressed continued skepticism that they would see the documents.

"I can tell you, the people I represent, they believe you are stonewalling," said Rep. Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican.

Filed under: Darrell Issa • IRS
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Tampa Tim

    Issa won't read any e mails, he will turn them over to a Fox and let them edit them. Why is Issa still in charge?

    March 26, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  2. Alex

    They won't read the emails because, just like the ACA bill, there will be too many pages for them to read.

    March 26, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  3. Name. willard

    I want tell truth irs and god what happened about from fraud check scam from afrcian amercian

    March 26, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  4. Borderless


    He means after the election. Slimiest, most corrupt administration ever.

    March 26, 2014 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  5. kylefromohio

    The real story goes like this the IRS not having a clear directive about these non-profits declaring Non-political both conservative and Progressive, and how they were cheating, Both parties, not just the consevative side.

    March 26, 2014 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  6. smith

    Malory Archer


    @Malory-Gore would have been potus if it wasn't for Ralph Nader and Micheal Moore. If Nader would never had run, Gore would have taken Florida easily.


    Yeah, except when the votes got to the break even point, the USSC put a stop to the counting and called the election for the loser. The facts became crystal clear in the weeks that followed as an"unofficial" count continued and showed that Al Gore CLEARLY got more votes. HOWEVER, the USSC and the Federal Election Commission refused to make it right because it would be "damaging" the usurper. Of course it would have been – it would have meant he had no business squatting at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue!

    Why did Gore give in? Why did liberals not want Nader to run in 2004? What we have here are two theories and the Democracts supported my theory in large.

    March 26, 2014 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |

    They will never turn over anything that will incriminate themselves, period.

    March 26, 2014 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  8. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    "the former IRS official under investigation for the agency's targeting of conservative groups."
    CNN, you make yourself sound so partisan when you only indicate the targeting of conservative groups while blatantly leaving out the FACT that liberal groups were targeted as well. Try journalism for a try please. As far as the emails go, they don't matter. Issa clearly chooses to ignore the facts and frankly shouldn't be allowed to hold on to his chairmanship.

    March 26, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  9. Dems in PA

    The House needs to get the emails off the IRS backup servers, don’t depend on the IRS giving up anything that would incriminate the IRS, the Obama administration or any Democrats.

    March 26, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  10. Name. willard

    I am belived that issa are great

    March 26, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  11. Silence DoGood

    The Ken Starr Inquisition all over again.

    March 26, 2014 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  12. Silence DoGood

    "He later added that gathering all the information so far subpoenaed by the committee, including applications for tax exempt status, could take "years.""
    Don't worry – it won't take years. Issa will drop this harassment after Obama leaves office. Then they have to figure out how to harass the next Dem president.

    March 26, 2014 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  13. freedom

    The IRS needs to be abolished. Now it's going to be in your personal health records. It's thoroughly been corrupted by the Obama administration, and needs to be gutted.

    March 26, 2014 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  14. jboh

    Chairman Issa still witch hunting this competley disproven accusation. Throw this jerk out on his ear. Just a waste of tax-payer $ persueing nothing, in spite of Blimpbaugh's oxycodone pickled brain flatulence.

    March 26, 2014 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    Tampa Tim

    Issa won't read any e mails, he will turn them over to a Fox and let them edit them. Why is Issa still in charge?
    Why hasn't Issa been disciplined or demoted, as hinted at? Because he's a Republican, and Democrats have stopped calling for his head on a plate.

    March 26, 2014 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  16. RIchard Long

    To Lib crybabies...
    If the IRS did not target political groups why did Holly Paz, IRS Supervisor, admit she scrutinized applications?

    March 26, 2014 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  17. Juan Jiminez

    Seriously?! How hard is it to turn over some emails? How long has this nonsense been going on? It's a complete sham and everyone here knows it. Good luck in the upcoming elections. With this kind of "transparency" you dems will need all you can get.

    March 26, 2014 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  18. Thomas

    Darrell Issa, a California Republican could help get to the bottom go the GW Bridge controversy ?

    "Chris" Christie / Darrell Issa 2016

    Taking the Fifth for a better tomorrow !

    March 26, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    Next, Issa's office will leak carefully selected and snipped out-of-context quotes in an effort to create news that appears to support the narrative the GOP/Teartolls decided upon before the investigation even started.

    This will be followed by CNN and the MSM opening another journalistic black hole and rapturing over the nontroversy.

    After that, some fact checkers will get busy and more complete versions of the emails will get leaked and it will all be proven that the initial "anonymous" leaks, from Issa's staff no doubt, were indeed self-serving nonsense and didn't really show what Issa and the Teatrolls claimed they showed.

    Finally, CNN and the MSM will immediately pretend the story never happened and that they didn't just spend a week helping the GOP/Teatrolls sell lies and misinform the public and the whole thing will be swept under the rug with no effort to correct the gross misrepresentations and misleading of the public in which CNN and the MSM played a pivotal role.

    March 26, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  20. Chris Jones

    Jail them until they are produced. They are not elected officials but employees of the Govt!!!

    March 26, 2014 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  21. Charles

    They have no intention of reading them, they simply are looking for a golden needle in a haystack.

    March 26, 2014 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  22. CryBabies

    Finally! Lets see what is redacted.

    March 26, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  23. Paul

    I don't understand why Issa doesn't just offer Lerner immunity from prosecution if he really feels this issue went above her and to the white house? What a waste of money this whole thing is so far.

    March 26, 2014 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  24. Tampa Tim

    Jail all of Krispy's appointees and Krispy himself until all bridge gate and Sandy records are released.

    March 26, 2014 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    "If the IRS did not target political groups why did Holly Paz, IRS Supervisor, admit she scrutinized applications?"

    Because that's her freekin job. The RULES are inherently about politics: organizations receiving 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status are prohibited from engaging in POLITICAL activity. Groups naming themselves with blatantly political names or providing blatantly politicized purpose statements....using the word "Tea Party" or 'progressive" or whatever or talking about "fighting the spread of liberalism" etc...they throw up red flags and of course they get scrutinized and yes, it appears as if it's for political reasons because that's what the freekin rules say: NO POLITICS.

    March 26, 2014 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
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