Explanations provided by the Internal Revenue Service for how it lost two years of former employee Lois Lerner's emails are "entirely reasonable," the White House said on Monday.
"You’ve never heard of a computer crashing before?" White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters traveling with the president aboard Air Force One.
Congressional Republicans have blasted the IRS's admission that it lost Lerner's emails from between 2009 and 2011 because of an apparent computer error. Lerner resigned from the agency amid controversy over charges her division unfairly targeted conservative political groups.
In a statement Monday, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) accused the IRS of "continued obstruction and game-playing" and announced he had subpoenaed the agency's commissioner to appear before Congress.
"For too long, the IRS has promised to produce requested - and, later, subpoenaed - documents, only to respond later with excuses and inaction," Issa said.
But the White House dismissed Republican complaints as conspiratorial.
"I think it’s entirely reasonable, because it’s the truth and it’s a fact, and speculation otherwise I think is indicative of the kinds of conspiracies that are propagated around this story. And they’re propagated in a way that has left people with a very mistaken impression about what exactly occurred," Earnest said.
Earnest also said the administration had turned over some 67,000 other emails sent or received by Lerner during her tenure at the agency, calling it a "good-faith effort" by the IRS to assist in investigations.
"So if we are trying to hide Lois Lerner’s e-mails from congressional oversight, there’s a pretty large loophole," Earnest said.
"The far-fetched skepticism expressed by some Republican members of Congress I think is not at all surprising and not particularly believable," Earnest added.