IRS chief: IG to address Lerner emails soon

IRS commissioner John Koskinen said Thursday that he expects an inspector general to weigh in on Lois Lerner’s missing emails in “the next few weeks.”

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Koskinen said the agency was cooperating fully with Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, whose report on the agency’s improper scrutiny of Tea Party groups in May 2013 has helped spark more than a year’s worth of investigations.

The IRS controversy has since gained new life after the agency acknowledged that a computer crash left it unable to reproduce all of Lerner’s emails from 2009 to 2011.

Republicans believe those emails are especially important to their investigation. Lerner is the former IRS official who became the central figure in the controversy after first acknowledging the agency’s treatment of Tea Party groups.

Koskinen said on CNN’s “The Situation Room” that he expected at least an interim report from the inspector general in the next few weeks. “I think the appropriate way to proceed is, let’s see what the IG finds out,” he said.

“I think we need to pull all of this together, see what we know, and proceed,” Koskinen added, while stressing that he had seen nothing so far to suggest that the loss of the emails amounted to a crime.

Democratic aides have said that the inspector general learned that Lerner’s hard drive crashed back in October 2012. But Republicans have pointed out that knowing that Lerner had computer issues doesn’t mean that investigators knew that her emails were missing.

Koskinen’s interview came just one day after House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) charged that Lerner sought to audit Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) over an invitation from a nonprofit.

Koskinen pointed out Thursday that it’s not clear from released emails whether Lerner was referring to Grassley or the nonprofit when questioning whether to refer the case to the IRS’s examinations unit.

“For years, the IRS internally has had programs that make it impossible for any individual to start an exam,” Koskinen said. 

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