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Here’s What the IRS Whistleblower Will Tell Lawmakers About the Hunter Biden Probe Behind Closed Doors


BY: MARGOT CLEVELAND | MAY 26, 2023

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2023/05/26/heres-what-the-irs-whistleblower-will-tell-lawmakers-about-the-hunter-biden-probe-behind-closed-doors/

IRS Whistleblower Gary Shapley

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MARGOT CLEVELAND

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IRS Supervisory Special Agent Gary Shapley will appear before the House Ways and Means Committee later Friday morning to submit to questioning from both Democrats and Republicans.

Missing, however, will be any members of the Senate Finance Committee, which refused to conduct a joint interview with the House oversight committee. While Republican Rep. Jason Smith, chair of the Ways and Means Committee, held the power to authorize Senate representatives to attend the transcribed interview of the whistleblower.

Smith inexplicably ignored Shapley’s statement that he “would welcome” the participation of designated Senate staffers in the House hearing. Thus, the House hearing will proceed, but not on a bicameral basis. 

According to a person familiar with the proceedings, the House Ways and Means Committee will convene at 9:30 a.m., with Shapley appearing for questioning with his two lawyers, Mark Lytle from Nixon Peabody and Tristan Leavitt of Empower Oversight. The closed-door questioning is expected to last all day.

While the Ways and Means Committee will question Shapley in a closed session, the public can guess the content of much of his testimony given the high-profile nature of the case against Hunter Biden. In fact, neither Shapley nor his attorneys have ever publicly confirmed that Hunter Biden is the target of the Internal Revenue Service investigation, yet it is uniformly agreed that the whistleblower’s testimony concerns the handling of the tax probe into the president’s son.

Shapley, a 14-year veteran at the IRS, provided some insight into his likely testimony when he sat for an exclusive interview with CBS News on Wednesday. During that interview, Shapley explained that he was first assigned to the investigation in January 2020. “When I took control of this particular investigation, I immediately saw deviations from the normal process,” Shapley told CBS News. “It was way outside the norm of what I’ve experienced in the past,” the whistleblower stressed.

Shapley further claimed during the interview that “there were multiple steps that were slow-walked — were just completely not done — at the direction of the Department of Justice.” That statement coincides with the information contained in an earlier letter sent by the whistleblower’s lawyers to the oversight committees. That letter maintained that the whistleblower has detailed “examples of preferential treatment and politics improperly infecting decisions and protocols that would normally be followed by career law enforcement professionals in similar circumstances if the subject were not politically connected.” 

“People directly familiar with the case” provided more particulars to Shapley’s claims, asserting that “specific DOJ employees placed strictures on questions, witnesses and tactics investigators may be allowed to pursue that could impact President Biden.” The unnamed sources also stressed that the improper politicization of the case came from the Justice Department and FBI headquarters. 

When read together, these details raise a huge red flag because they mean the interference from the DOJ and FBI headquarters began under the Trump administration. So, who in the Trump administration was responsible for slow-walking the Hunter Biden investigation? What investigative steps were not taken? 

In a letter from Shapley’s legal team to the congressional oversight committees, he spoke of irregularities beginning in the summer of 2020 in both the DOJ Tax Division and an unnamed U.S. attorney’s office, which CNN would later report is the office of Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss. Weiss has been investigating Hunter Biden since 2018. 

Another detail from Shapley’s CBS News interview that foreshadows the content of his Friday testimony concerns his explanation of the “red line” meeting that convinced the IRS supervisory special agent his oath of office required him to come forward. According to Shapley, while he had been noticing deviations in the investigative process for a couple of years, he just couldn’t “fathom that DOJ might be acting unethically.” Then came an October 2022 meeting he had with federal prosecutors, after which Shapley told CBS News, “It just got to that point where that switch was turned on, and I just couldn’t silence my conscience anymore.”

While the CBS News interview did not air further details about the meeting, a letter from Shapley’s legal team described a “charged meetings on October 7, 2022,” during which the U.S. attorney — reportedly Weiss — “became aware that both the IRS and the FBI had longstanding concerns about the handling of the case” and that those concerns had been communicated up the chain of command. Then, after an Oct. 17, 2022, meeting at which Shapley continued to raise concerns, he and his investigative team were excluded from future meetings on the case.

Shapley seems poised to name names on Friday, and his attorney has told Just the News that “he’ll be able to talk about these meetings that he attended, that were with both agents and prosecutors.” Shapley summarized those meetings and distributed his notes to the IRS and other agents, his lawyer explained, and along with his emails, these documents will corroborate his story. 

The whistleblower can also identify other IRS agents who participated in the meetings and can confirm his testimony. The DOJ’s decision earlier this month to remove Shapley’s entire investigative team from the Hunter Biden investigation may backfire, serving as a catalyst to loosen the other agents’ lips.

But in the meantime, it will be Shapley doing the talking. And while Americans won’t know at once what the IRS supervisory special agent has to say, the House Ways and Means Committee has the authority to submit the information obtained from Sharpley to both the Senate and the House of Representatives, thereby making the testimony public. 

Democrats used that statutory carveout to release Trump’s tax information publicly, and Republicans should follow their lead — and soon.


Margot Cleveland is The Federalist’s senior legal correspondent. She is also a contributor to National Review Online, the Washington Examiner, Aleteia, and Townhall.com, and has been published in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Cleveland is a lawyer and a graduate of the Notre Dame Law School, where she earned the Hoynes Prize—the law school’s highest honor. She later served for nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk for a federal appellate judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Cleveland is a former full-time university faculty member and now teaches as an adjunct from time to time. As a stay-at-home homeschooling mom of a young son with cystic fibrosis, Cleveland frequently writes on cultural issues related to parenting and special-needs children. Cleveland is on Twitter at @ProfMJCleveland. The views expressed here are those of Cleveland in her private capacity.

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Emails Show Ron Wyden’s Office Lied About IRS Whistleblower ‘Backing Out’ Of Senate Meeting


BY: MARGOT CLEVELAND | MAY 25, 2023

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2023/05/25/emails-show-ron-wydens-office-lied-about-irs-whistleblower-backing-out-of-senate-meeting/

Ron Wyden

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A spokesman for Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., falsely claimed the Hunter Biden IRS whistleblower had “backed out” of an agreement to meet with the Senate Finance Committee next week, the whistleblower’s attorneys told The Federalist.

“It’s disappointing Senator Wyden’s staff is playing partisan games by releasing inaccurate information,” said the legal team representing the whistleblower, who was identified as Gary Shapley during a CBS interview Wednesday. “As emails show, our client didn’t ‘back out’ of anything because there was never anything to back out of.” 

On Wednesday, CNN reported the Senate Finance Committee’s claims, quoting Wyden’s spokesman, Ryan Carey, saying, “Committee staff on both sides agreed with counsel to meet directly with the whistleblower next week, however the whistleblower has since backed out of that agreement and declined an attempt to reschedule.” Carey added that “Chairman Wyden’s staff stand ready to arrange a meeting on terms that comply with laws protecting taxpayer data and ensure a fair and rigorous investigation.”

CNN later updated the article to include a detailed denial of the staffer’s claim by Shapley’s legal team.

Emails obtained by The Federalist between Shapley’s lawyers and Wyden’s staff confirm the whistleblower’s version of events.

On Friday, May 19, 2023, Mark Lytle, Shapley’s Nixon Peabody lawyer, arranged for a conference call between the whistleblower’s legal team and Wyden’s office to discuss logistics for their client to sit for a transcribed deposition. The next email in the thread came from a Wyden staffer the day after Lytle and his co-counsel Tristan Leavitt, the president of Empower Oversight, had dispatched their May 22 letter to the chairs and ranking members of the Senate Finance Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee, and the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, as well as Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley’s office.

In their May 22 letter, the whistleblower’s legal team summarized their version of what had transpired. They also noted that they had informed the Senate Finance Committee’s staff that Shapley would testify before the House Ways and Means Committee on Friday, May 26, and reiterated their preference for a single joint interview or, at minimum, an interview the previous day, May 25. 

“Unfortunately, the Finance Committee would not commit to a date consecutive to the House interview as an accommodation to our client’s concerns, as the staff had previously offered,” the letter stressed. Wyden’s staffers also refused to commit to an interview the Tuesday after the long Memorial Day weekend. The Senate Finance Committee’s political game-playing prompted the whistleblower’s attorneys to move forward with the House interview.

It was only then that Wyden’s office attempted to commit to an interview with the whistleblower before the Senate Finance Committee. In doing so, the staffer sent an email that both ignored Shapley’s letter and misrepresented the prior communications, the whistleblower’s legal team confirmed.  The email communications back up those claims, with the whistleblower’s legal team writing that during their Friday call, Wyden’s office “would not commit to *either* Thursday or the following Tuesday after the holiday.”

“We asked you to reconsider Thursday and you offered to check on logistics for Tuesday, expressing doubt that you could get a court reporter,” the email continued. “We did not hear from you over the weekend or Monday, and thus sent the letter articulating our position and the reasons for it.”

In response, Wyden’s staffer did not dispute that sequence of events, but instead wrote that since Tuesday was represented as a “‘distant third’ option, it was an option”: “In line with that agreement, Tuesday the 30th is the date the Committee is available to meet. Please let us know how you’d like to proceed by the end of the day.”

That final email confirms there was no agreement between the Senate Finance Committee and the whistleblower, as Wyden’s spokesman had told CNN, but only continued efforts to reach an agreement.

The Federalist requested clarification from Daniel Goshorn, the Wyden staffer on the email exchanges, asking whether the senator’s spokesman had misspoken when he said there was an “agreement” for Shapley to testify. The Federalist also asked whether Wyden’s office on Friday had been unwilling to commit to either a Thursday or a Tuesday interview. Finally, The Federalist queried Wyden’s office on why they won’t agree to a joint interview.

Goshorn did not respond with a comment by press time.

However, no matter the reason Wyden and the Democrat-controlled Senate Finance Committee have for refusing to conduct a joint interview with the House, that may be their only option at this point. The whistleblower is poised to appear on Friday before the Ways and Means Committee and indicated an unwillingness to testify again later before the Senate. 

Rep. Jason Smith, the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, shouldn’t leave the decision up to Wyden, though, because the Senate Democrat has proven himself to be putting politics above the public interest. Smith should sidestep the political posturing and, as I explained on Tuesday, use Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code to open the House Ways and Means’ interview of the whistleblower to the relevant Democrat and Republican members from both the House and Senate. 

If Smith refuses to do so, that will be as inexplicable as Wyden refusing to participate in a joint hearing — leaving one to wonder if the House Republican is playing politics as well.


Margot Cleveland is The Federalist’s senior legal correspondent. She is also a contributor to National Review Online, the Washington Examiner, Aleteia, and Townhall.com, and has been published in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Cleveland is a lawyer and a graduate of the Notre Dame Law School, where she earned the Hoynes Prize—the law school’s highest honor. She later served for nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk for a federal appellate judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Cleveland is a former full-time university faculty member and now teaches as an adjunct from time to time. As a stay-at-home homeschooling mom of a young son with cystic fibrosis, Cleveland frequently writes on cultural issues related to parenting and special-needs children. Cleveland is on Twitter at @ProfMJCleveland. The views expressed here are those of Cleveland in her private capacity.

Here’s How House Republicans Could Block Senate Democrats’ Efforts To Thwart IRS Whistleblower


BY: MARGOT CLEVELAND | MAY 23, 2023

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2023/05/23/heres-how-house-republicans-could-block-senate-democrats-efforts-to-thwart-irs-whistleblower/

Ron Wyden

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MARGOT CLEVELAND

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The Democrat-controlled Senate Finance Committee is playing politics with the Hunter Biden IRS whistleblower, a letter sent Monday to the heads of the congressional oversight committees charges. But besides outing the partisan gamesmanship of the Senate committee, the whistleblower’s attorneys signal a solution to House Republicans: Use Section 6103(f)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code to sidestep Senate Democrats’ efforts to thwart the IRS whistleblower.

According to Monday’s letter, obtained by The Federalist, while attorneys for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) supervisory special agent have been working diligently for the last month to arrange for their client to testify on a bipartisan, bicameral basis to the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, “the Senate Finance Committee leadership has been unwilling to even consider a joint interview.” Nonetheless, the whistleblower remained committed to working with the Democrat-controlled Senate Finance Committee since it had indicated a willingness to coordinate scheduling to allow the whistleblower to testify on two consecutive days. 

But then, after scheduling their client’s private testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee for Friday, May 26, the Senate Finance Committee refused to commit to interviewing the whistleblower the prior day to allow the questioning to take place on two consecutive days. Thus, on Monday, the whistleblower’s attorneys declared, in essence, enough is enough, in their dispatch to the Senate and House: “Our client intends to appear on Friday, May 26th for the scheduled testimony agreed to by the House Ways and Means Committee,” the letter declared, then stressing that the whistleblower is unlikely to agree to testify separately before the Senate on another date.

Significantly, the letter from the IRS supervisory special agent’s attorneys added that their “client would welcome appropriately designated Senate staff to join and participate” in the House hearing. This invitation is huge because Section 6103(f)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code authorizes the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee to “designate or appoint” an agent to receive confidential tax information.

Because Republicans control the House Ways and Means Committee, its chair, Jason Smith, could designate Senate staffers to “join and participate” in the whistleblower’s House-transcribed interview. If Smith is wise, he will take the hint and designate as agents under Section 6103(f)(4) multiple Senate staffers for both Democrat and Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee. 

This would allow the whistleblower to achieve what he wanted: to be questioned on a bipartisan and bicameral basis. Additionally, by designating multiple Senate staffers, not merely staffers for the chair and ranking member, the House Ways and Means Committee can ensure Sen. Chuck Grassley’s top investigator participates in the transcribed interview — something Democrat Ron Wyden, the Senate Finance Committee chair, was blocking.

As the Washington Examiner reported Monday, the IRS whistleblower had included Grassley in his various correspondence to the committees because the Iowa senator is co-chair of the Whistleblower Protection Caucus and is “more trusted than any other public official by whistleblowers.” Grassley and his investigators are also “subject matter experts on both whistleblower protections and the Biden family business controversies,” as well as “very familiar with the specific statutes protecting sensitive tax information.”

Yet Wyden, who also serves as a co-chair with Grassley on the Whistleblower Protection Caucus, has refused to allow Grassley to participate in the Senate’s probe of the whistleblower’s claims.

But now, unless the Democrat-controlled Senate Finance Committee quickly reverses course and agrees to a joint — or, at minimum, consecutive — interview of the whistleblower, it won’t be Wyden deciding anything. It will be the Republican House Ways and Means chair. 

Whether the whistleblower’s Monday letter jolts Wyden and his fellow Democrats into action remains to be seen. Either way, Smith should designate Senate staffers, including Grassley’s lead investigator, as agents for the House Ways and Means Committee to ensure the fullest exposure possible for the IRS whistleblower’s testimony. 

That move might also teach Democrats not to play political games with whistleblowers who go to great lengths to ensure bipartisanship — as was done in mid-April when the IRS whistleblower’s attorneys first reached out to both Republican and Democrat leaders with their client’s offer to provide testimony of detailed “examples of preferential treatment” “improperly infecting decisions and protocols” applied during the investigation of a “high-profile,” “politically connected” individual. Unnamed sources later identified the IRS target as Hunter Biden and claimed that “specific DOJ employees placed strictures on questions, witnesses and tactics investigators may be allowed to pursue that could impact President Biden.” 

The whistleblower’s bipartisan pledge was then put into action when his attorneys, Tristan Leavitt of Empower Oversight and Mark Lytle of Nixon Peabody, LLP, worked with both the Republican-controlled House Ways and Means Committee and the Democrat-controlled Senate Finance Committee to be designated the respective committee’s agents with authority to inspect Hunter Biden’s tax returns and related information under Section 6103(f)(4).

After learning the extent of their client’s evidence concerning the alleged misconduct involved in the Hunter Biden investigation, Leavitt and Peabody on May 5, 2023, provided separate “proffers” to both the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees. In those proffers, the attorneys summarized the substance of their client’s disclosures, paving the way for the client to testify before both committees.

But while the whistleblower remains committed to bipartisanship, Monday’s letter to the committees’ chairs and ranking members, as well as the heads of the Judiciary Committees and Grassley, exposed the delays and other disconcerting tactics undertaken by the Democrat-led Senate Finance Committee. And while the whistleblower lacks the power to force the Senate Democrats to play fair, as his attorneys highlighted in their letter, Chairman Smith of the House Ways and Means Committee is not so constrained.

Let’s hope Smith takes the hint.


Margot Cleveland is The Federalist’s senior legal correspondent. She is also a contributor to National Review Online, the Washington Examiner, Aleteia, and Townhall.com, and has been published in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Cleveland is a lawyer and a graduate of the Notre Dame Law School, where she earned the Hoynes Prize—the law school’s highest honor. She later served for nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk for a federal appellate judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Cleveland is a former full-time university faculty member and now teaches as an adjunct from time to time. As a stay-at-home homeschooling mom of a young son with cystic fibrosis, Cleveland frequently writes on cultural issues related to parenting and special-needs children. Cleveland is on Twitter at @ProfMJCleveland. The views expressed here are those of Cleveland in her private capacity.

Fraud-Prone Poverty Programs Are Ripping Off Taxpayers Nationwide


BY: SHAD WHITE | APRIL 13, 2023

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2023/04/13/fraud-prone-poverty-programs-are-ripping-off-taxpayers-nationwide/

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If the new Republican House majority wants to focus on fraud, start by looking at poverty programs.

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Three years ago, my office, the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor, learned through a whistleblower tip that Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds may have been misspent by the Mississippi agency handling that money. Several months later and after an investigation by my team, we revealed the startling truth: Tens of millions of welfare dollars had been embezzled.

TANF funds were used in Mississippi to pay for drug treatment at a luxury Malibu resort for the friend of the head of the agency dispersing the funds. It paid for an investment in an experimental concussion drug company. It financed religious concerts with no proof they were attended by the needy, nice cars for the heads of an influential local nonprofit — along with paying off a speeding ticket for one of them — and excessive rent for property owned by the people handing out the money.

And of course, national outlets from ESPN to the late-night comics picked up on our discovery that Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre was paid $1.1 million on a contract requiring him to give speeches he never gave. He also successfully lobbied for $5 million in welfare funds to be spent on a volleyball court at his alma mater where his daughter played.

All told, this was the largest public fraud in state history. Local and federal prosecutors took our findings and indicted six of the culprits. We arrested them, and five have pleaded guilty. The FBI continues to investigate the case, working with our entire case file and my team to get to the bottom of everything.

Nationwide Problem

Sadly, large fraud schemes in poverty alleviation programs have streamed across the headlines of newspapers around the country lately. In the last couple of months, federal prosecutors indicted two nonprofit executives in Minnesota for stealing $250 million from a program to feed hungry kids. In June of 2022, the New York Post reported the head of a New York nonprofit was paid millions in taxpayer funds to house the poor while living in an expensive high-rise and funneling taxpayer money to his for-profit businesses. The list goes on.

Now that Republicans have taken the majority in the U.S. House, they have a fresh opportunity to explore why the billions taxpayers spend on the poor are so prone to this sort of abuse. In November, House Republicans sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra arguing, “The Mississippi case is emblematic of a systemic problem: TANF lacks necessary guardrails making it susceptible to fraud.” They asked HHS to describe what they were doing to prevent the problem in the future.

This was a great start, and Republicans should double down on efforts to extirpate fraud from these kinds of programs. Connected powerbrokers who happen to run a nonprofit should not be the primary beneficiaries of our government’s spending for the poor. The House Ways and Means Committee should hold hearings to identify the best policy changes for these programs.

Proposals for Improvement

Here are a few ideas to get them started: Federal monitors should ensure state agencies are policing the nonprofits that take funds, tighter restrictions should be placed on how TANF can be spent (poverty programs should be focused on getting people into the workforce — period), and state agency heads should sign documents under penalty of perjury attesting to the number of poor people who were helped by their spending.

Finally, HHS should regularly report improper TANF spending to Congress. As House Republicans have noted, “Nearly every government assistance program is required to report improper payments on an annual basis, TANF is not.”

Voters expect government to act quickly to stop fraud in these programs. The belief that influence peddlers have rigged government spending for their benefit is bipartisan. Putting a stop to these sorts of schemes in poverty programs would appeal to a broad cross-section of Americans. Billions of dollars are spent across hundreds of these programs, so the savings could be massive if Congress gets this right. And most importantly, hard-earned taxpayer dollars might actually benefit the poor in our country.


Shad White is the 42nd State Auditor of Mississippi.

‘I don’t believe you!’: Paul Ryan levels blistering attack against IRS boss over ‘lost’ emails explanation


http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/06/20/irs-boss-faces-cover-up-claims-ahead-hill-hearing-on-missing-emails/

Incredulous lawmakers tore into IRS Commissioner John Koskinen over the agency’s claims that subpoenaed emails of ex-Trigger the Voteofficial Lois Lerner and other employees are gone forever because a hard drive was destroyed. 

“This is unbelievable,” Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., angrily told Koskinen. That’s your problem. Nobody believes you.”

Koskinen responded, “I have a long career. That’s the first time anyone’s said I don’t believe you.”

“I don’t believe you,” Ryan shot back again.

Koskinen set a defiant tone during his testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee, telling lawmakers he felt no need for the agency to apologize amid accusations of a cover-up in the targeting scandal of conservative groups. Republican lawmakers had demanded the emails between Lerner and other government officials – including at the White House – be turned over to determine whether there was a coordinated effort to stymie conservative groups prior to the 2012 elections.

“I don’t think an apology is owed,” he said. “We haven’t lost an email since the start of this investigation.”

“I don’t believe you.” – Rep. Paul Ryan, R- Wisc., to IRS commissioner

That didn’t sit well with Chairman David Camp, R-Mich., who pressed the commissioner on the timeline of events and accused the agency of “keeping secrets.”Tyranney Alert

GOP lawmakers are furious after learning a week ago that many Lerner emails from a two-year period supposedly have disappeared. Committee Republicans now say that the IRS may have known about this for months, and that the agency may have lost emails from another six employees. 

“The IRS in charge of hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ information. And you’re now saying your technology system was so poor that years’ worth of emails are forever unrecoverable?” Camp charged. “How does that put anyone at ease? How far would the excuse ‘I lost it’ get with the IRS for an average American trying to file their yearly taxes who may have lost a few receipts.”

The tone and exchanges between lawmakers and the commissioner frequently became heated.

Rep. Carl Levin, D- Mich., stood up for the IRS Friday and likened the investigation and calls of a cover-up to a political witch hunt brought on

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by Republicans who he claims will try “to tie the problem to the White House” and will “keep up this drumbeat until the November election.”

During the testy exchange between Ryan and Koskinen, Levin tried to intervene.

“Will you let him answer the question?” Levin asked Ryan.

Ryan responded angrily, “I didn’t ask him a question!”

Levin chided his colleagues that, “witnesses deserve some respect.”

Earlier this week, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said he’s been told that Lerner’s hard drive was simply destroyed. 

“They just got rid of it,” he told Fox News. “It really looks bad and I’ve got to say it looks like a cover-up to me.” 

Hatch and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., are leading a bipartisan investigation in the Senate Finance Committee into the targeting scandal, separate from the House Ways and Means probe. 

House and Senate Republicans, though, have common questions for the commissioner and the rest of the agency. 

Hatch fired off a letter to Koskinen on Thursday voicing concerns that he met with him on Monday, yet the commissioner and his staff did not mention that emails from six other employees might be missing. 

Hold Lois Lerner in Contempt.Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the investigation, invoked her Fifth Amendment right at least nine times to avoid answering lawmakers’ questions. According to an audit by the Treasury Department inspector general for tax administration, Lerner did not learn that IRS staffers were improperly reviewing applications of Tea Party and other conservative groups for tax-exempt status until weeks after her computer crashed.

PI 11Lerner’s computer crashed sometime around June 13, 2011, according to emails provided to Congress. She first learned about the tea party reviews on June 29, according to the inspector general.

Koskinen told Congress that Lerner’s hard drive was unavailable to them because it had been recycled.BS WARNING BS ALERT

 

The IRS said last week it became aware of the missing emails in February of this year. The IRS did not know whether the other computer crashes have resulted in lost emails as well. It will also not say how often its computers fail and lose data.

The lost emails are raising questions even by the government’s records officer. In a June 17 letter to the IRS, Paul Wester Jr. asked the agency to investigate the loss of records and whether any disposal of data was authorized. Wester, the chief records officer at the National Archives and Records Administration, was responding to the IRS’ June 13 disclosure of Lerner’s lost emails.

Wester’s letter did not address the lost records of six other employees that the IRS disclosed that day. Wester said the IRS is required to report its finding within 30 days. Federal agencies are supposed to report destruction of records — whether accidental or intentional — to the National Archives “promptly” after an incident.BS WARNING BS ALERT

The IRS said that after Lerner’s computer crashed in June 2011, technicians were not able to retrieve data from her hard drive.

In May, more than two months after the IRS discovered the emails were missing, the IRS assured Camp that it would provide all applications from groups seeking tax-exempt status in 2010 and 2011, including all files, correspondence and internal IRS records related to them. Camp had asked for the records in May 2012.BS WARNING BS ALERT

It’s similarly unclear why the IRS didn’t attempt to recover the emails from backup servers in June 2011, especially since Lerner told an IRS computer technician in a July 2011 email, “There were some documents in the files that are irreplaceable.”

Shawn Henry, the FBI’s former cyber director, said technicians should have been able to retrieve data from the servers around the times the computers crashed.

“If they knew there was a problem in 2011,” said Henry, now president of CrowdStrike, a security technology company, “they could have or should have been able to recover it.”

30 Witnesses disappearThe IRS told Congress last week that recovering emails has been a challenge because doing so is “a more complex process for the IRS than it is for many private or public organizations.”

The IRS was able to find copies of 24,000 Lerner emails from between 2009 and 2011 because Lerner had sent copies to other IRS employees. Overall, the IRS said it was producing 67,000 emails to and from Lerner, covering 2009 to 2013. The agency said it searched for emails of 83 people and spent nearly $10 million to produce hundreds of thousands of documents.

At the time that Lerner’s computer crashed, IRS policy had been to make copies of all IRS employees’ email inboxes every day and hold them for six months. The agency changed the policy in May 2013 to keep these snapshots for a longer, unspecified amount of time. Had this been the policy in 2011, when at least two of the computer crashes occurred, there likely could have been backups of the lost emails today.

The chief executive for an email-archiving company, Pierre Villeneuve of Jatheon Technologies, said most public and private sector organizations keep emails for several years, not six months, because of financial regulations and inexpensive computer storage.

The IRS has said technicians sent Lerner’s hard drive to a forensic lab run by the agency’s criminal investigations unit. But the information was not recoverable, a technician told her in an Aug. 5, 2011, email.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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