IRS technician: Lerner hard drive not intentionally damaged

The IRS technician who said that former agency Lois Lerner’s hard drive was scratched also said there was no sign the drive was intentionally damaged, according to a partial interview transcript released by Democrats.

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“Nothing in my course of the examination and observations made me believe that this was sabotage or any kind of strange physical damage,” said John Minsek, a technician with the IRS’s criminal investigations unit.

Democrats with the House Ways and Means Committee released the partial transcript of Minsek’s interview, after claiming that Republicans on the panel had twisted the technician’s words.

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) asserted Tuesday that Minsek said in his interview that Lerner’s hard drive was scratched, and data from it was recoverable.

The IRS says that the hard drive crash has left it unable to reproduce an untold number of Lerner’s emails. John Koskinen, the IRS commissioner, said at a Wednesday hearing that the agency was currently deferring to Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, which is looking into the missing emails.

In the transcript Democrats released Wednesday, Minsek also says that he made a couple different attempts to retrieve data from Lerner’s hard drive, and that he told other IRS information technology staffers “that they may want to consider a third party.”

“I had exhausted all my avenues that I had at my disposal,” Minsek said.

He added that there was “a whole laundry list of reasons” that could have caused the scratch on Lerner’s hard drive, including even a speck of dust.

“It happens. It's a more common thing than we'd like to think,” Minsek said.

“We have seen many, many times where a drive will produce damage, physical damage for no apparent reason. It's a mechanical device. And it will fail,” he later added. “I've seen physical damage caused by sabotage. And this didn't appear to me to be that.”