Boehner: White House 'has not lifted a finger' for IRS investigation

Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerIn House GOP, Ryan endorsement of Trump seen as inevitable House GOP faces dilemma on spending bills Overnight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns MORE (R-Ohio) slammed the White House’s handling of the IRS controversy on Thursday, insisting the administration “has not lifted a finger” to help congressional investigators.

ADVERTISEMENT
“Listen, I asked this a long time ago. I didn’t want to know who was going to be investigated. I wanted to know who was going to jail,” Boehner told reporters at the Capitol.

President Obama, Boehner added, “owes the American people the truth about what happened at the IRS.”

Congressional investigations into the Internal Revenue Service took on added intensity in recent days, after the agency told lawmakers last week that it couldn’t reproduce an untold number of former official Lois Lerner’s emails.

Lerner, the central figure in the IRS controversy, jumpstarted the investigations in May 2013 by acknowledging that the agency had singled out Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status.

The IRS says Lerner’s computer crashed in mid-2011, leaving it unable to hand over a stash of her emails for the preceding two-plus years. The IRS says the hard drive has been destroyed.

Republicans' investigators want proof the hard drive is lost, and are seeking maintenance logs from the IRS about what was done to Lerner's computer.

John Koskinen, the IRS commissioner, is expected to receive a range of sharp questioning when he appears before the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday.

Obama angered conservatives early this year when he said there wasn’t even “a smidgen” of corruption in the IRS case. Democrats have repeatedly said that there’s no proof of White House involvement or political motivation behind the IRS’s treatment of conservative organizations.

The White House added Wednesday that there were no direct emails between Lerner and White House officials between 2009 and mid-2011, after being pressed for that information by GOP investigators.

But top Republicans like Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) have said the Obama administration has impeded their investigation by slow-walking document requests.

Boehner on Thursday angrily dismissed IRS claims that technological problems had led to the loss of Lerner’s emails.

“This is outrageous, and the White House has not lifted a finger to help us get to the bottom of this,” Boehner said Thursday.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the investigation has revealed at least one thing: "They need a new technology system at the IRS."

"The reports all show that those responsible did not know about the years of the crash of their systems until a couple of years later," she said Thursday during a press briefing in the Capitol. "So they need to upgrade their technology, get it right, so that there's no suspicion about what agenda anyone may have."
 
Pelosi noted, however, that the IRS has already turned over hundreds of thousands of pages of documents in response to the Republicans' investigation.

"It's not as if they are devoid of information," she said.

— Mike Lillis contributed.

This story was updated at 1:10 p.m.