Now that the IRS has admitted that it lost emails from an individual who was linked to the agency's inappropriate targeting of political groups for extra scrutiny, last year's scandal has found its way back into the headlines. Last Friday, the agency announced that it didn't have the complete set of former official Lois Lerner's emails after a 2011 computer crash. And on Tuesday, two Republican lawmakers accused the IRS of losing even more emails — including those of fired former IRS chief of staff Nikole Flax.
In a press release, Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee said that the government “cannot produce records from six other IRS employees involved in the targeting of conservative groups." Committee Chair Rep. Dave Camp also said that the fact that Flax visited the White House several times during her tenure “only raises more questions," as Politico reported, even though it looks like the answer to most of the questions about her visits are pretty straightforward. The IRS had a role in administering the health care reform laws, and most of the meetings seem to pertain to its roll-out.
Despite reports that both Tea Party and "progressive" groups were targeted by the IRS for extra scrutiny, many conservatives believe that the U.S. uniquely, systematically targeted conservatives for their political beliefs, possibly on the orders of the White House. So far, there's no evidence to support this claim, which is partially why Republican lawmakers investigating the scandal have requested so many documents. The implication, of course, is that the evidence they want is somewhere in those emails, and that the government deliberately "lost" the incriminating content. Of course, there's another, simpler explanation for how a computer crash would actually result in lost emails.
Meanwhile, the big news out of the White House today has also fallen under the shadow of the resurfacing IRS scandal. For some, the capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala was a big step forward in the U.S.'s lengthy response to the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi. But there was another insta-reaction to the news: that the president ordered Khattala's capture in order to distract the American people from the recently resurrected IRS scandal. The general argument here goes that the timing — a secret weekend raid, just a day after the government announces that two years of emails were "lost" by the IRS in a computer crash — can only mean one thing. And that thing is a cover up.
Glad we nabbed a #Benghazi suspect, but the timing is questionable. Did they let him wander, waiting for the perfect political opportunity?— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) June 17, 2014
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.