Commentary Magazine


Will IRS’s Strategy of Destroying Evidence Pay Off?

If the latest revelations about the IRS are correct, then its officials have approached the abuse-of-power scandal with a clear strategy, pretty much from the beginning. They have been betting that, since their illegal targeting campaign against those who disagree with President Obama has had the backing of Democrats in Congress, they needed only a media strategy, not a political one. And that media strategy appears to have been: conceal or destroy potential (and actual) evidence, and assume that this activity will be less damaging than whatever is in the files they’ve worked to hide.

It’s a direct challenge to the media, in other words.

There are two aspects to the latest news. The first is that, according to Judicial Watch, the Justice Department believes Lerner’s records are backed up, but don’t want to put in the effort to find them:

Department of Justice attorneys for the Internal Revenue Service told Judicial Watch on Friday that Lois Lerner’s emails, indeed all government computer records, are backed up by the federal government in case of a government-wide catastrophe.  The Obama administration attorneys said that this back-up system would be too onerous to search.  The DOJ attorneys also acknowledged that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) is investigating this back-up system.

We obviously disagree that disclosing the emails as required would be onerous, and plan to raise this new development with Judge Sullivan.

This is a jaw-dropping revelation.  The Obama administration had been lying to the American people about Lois Lerner’s missing emails. There are no “missing” Lois Lerner emails – nor missing emails of any of the other top IRS or other government officials whose emails seem to be disappearing at increasingly alarming rate. All the focus on missing hard drives has been a diversion. The Obama administration has known all along where the email records could be – but dishonestly withheld this information. You can bet we are going to ask the court for immediate assistance in cutting through this massive obstruction of justice.

The second piece of news is pointed out by the New York Observer:

In two elusive and nebulous sworn declarations, we can glean that Ms. Lerner had two Blackberries. One was issued to her on November 12, 2009. According to a sworn declaration, this is the Blackberry that contained all the emails (both sent and received) that would have been in her “Outlook” and drafts that never were sent from her Blackberry during the relevant time.

With incredible disregard for the law and the Congressional inquiry, the IRS admits that this Blackberry “was removed or wiped clean of any sensitive or proprietary information and removed as scrap for disposal in June 2012.” This is a year after her hard drive “crash” and months after the Congressional inquiry began.

So the IRS attempted to destroy evidence of the emails after the investigation began, and those emails might still exist somewhere beyond the reach of the government officials in charge of destroying the evidence. Again, this is a direct challenge to the media: the IRS is expecting either a pass or scandal fatigue to play to their advantage. That is, they are hoping to set a precedent that the government can get away with heavyhanded abuse of its power so long as it destroys enough of the evidence once an investigation commences.

It is especially a challenge to the press if it’s true that the emails still exist but the government doesn’t want to go through the hassle of finding them. It’s actually more brazen, in some ways, than even trying to destroy them. It’s the sign of a government with nothing but pure contempt for the people. As Walter Russell Mead argues:

But if Fitton’s claim is true, then the IRS scandal really has arrived, and it is difficult not to conclude that we are dealing with a genuine constitutional crime. This wouldn’t be a matter of bribes or personal blackmail or sexual misconduct or any of the ordinary forms of corruption that are unfortunately far too common. Rather, it’s about the deliberate use of the power of the federal government to go after political opponents, and then a desperate attempt by others to cover it up. We’re still hoping that this story is exposed to a lot more light (and perhaps less heat), but the more we see, the worse and worse it looks.

Indeed, it would go beyond the sadly all-too-routinized forms of corruption, which are bad enough. The newest round of revelations describe a government agency (and its elected allies) not only thoroughly corrupted but also insistent on its entitlement to stand above accountability. The allegations warrant front-page headlines from the country’s major newspapers, surely. So where are they?

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9 Responses to “Will IRS’s Strategy of Destroying Evidence Pay Off?”

  1. KENT LYON says:

    Actually, the problem is potentially far worse than described here. If these details are true, it would suggest that the entirety of the Democratic Party is supportive of this approach to government. One of the two major political parties is institutionally dedicated to abuse of power and covering up those abuses. Of using the police powers of government to obtain and retain political power. To disenfranchise their political opponents and deprive them of Constitutional liberties. Democrats in Congress have done nothing but pooh-pooh any abuse of power or cover-up and have endlessly chastized Republicans in Congress for even daring to investigate, and blocked at every turn possible the investigation attempts, including trying to shout down the investigating committee. Further, the press has been collusional in the coverup process. Finally, the federal bureaucracy has assumed that it can abuse the law and the citizenry to support one political party. The Democratic Party has not just become the “party of government” but has become thobtain and retain control of political power. America has become, entirely, a banana republic under this Democratic administration. One political party and the majority of the nation have favored this, voting to support such a party and government. America is over. Political liberty, not to mention individual liberty, are dead in America–unless of course, those (all of those) directly involved, and even tangentially involved, are held fully responsible and pay the criminal price of their actions. Which is a remote liklihood at best. Such will be called criminalizing politics (actually, that’s exactly what’s being done by Democrats in Austin, Texas in their criminal charges against Perry), but when criminal actions are carried out in the name of politics, they should be treated as criminal acts. Watergate should have confirmed that. But the party that politically prosecuted Watergate has now committed far worse crimes, and obviously doesn’t want to be held responsible for anything. I would hazard a guess that someone will be held responsible for this IRS scandal long after John Corzine is indicted for his actions in the Global MF collapse(which will be never).


      Well put sir. Just one question: what are you going to do about it?

      I don’t ask that to be confrontational.

      Many are waking up to the fact that the government is out of control. The media are no longer the people’s “watchdog” and the ballot box is neutered because of “low information voters” or those who are recipients of government largess. So how do we bring the government back to heel?

      • MARTIN WOLF says:

        I suggest two possible solutions: Term limits and abolishment of unions comprised of federal and state employees. These unions are not necessary, are a major source of donations primarily to the Democratic Party, and are led, to a large extent, by Democratic operatives and supporters.

    • JACK LEVEY says:

      And it is suggesting that the press is not only apathetic, but sympathetic. On the rare occassions that the press reports anything, it reports that Republicans are seeking partisan advantage by leveling unjustified accusations over a mere computer glitch.

  2. ERIC LEVINE says:

    As a programmer, either the IRS is beyond incompetant (ok, we already knew that; but they would NEVER accept a citizen using the Lois Lerner lie to the IRS. The emails are recoverable-despite the lies from the IRS-to which they should be held accountable for! (The emails are accessible-and for much less $ than the costs incurred for their hiding and destruction of them-from wherever-from local server to a back-up to other recipients.) FACT-THE IRS CAN GET THE EMAILS BUT REFUSES TO DO SO. LOUS LERNER AND MUCH OF THE UPPER IRS DESERVES STRONG AUDITS AND JAIL TIME!

    • STEPHEN PARKER says:

      The Obama regime is not and never has been a political administration; it is a criminal enterprise whose leader has a criminal past, present, and future. Just who and what Obama was was known to the establishment Republican/Conservative political and media leadership in 2007. Had those leaders stood as one and denounced Obama, they could have prevented his nomination. They dishonorably chose not to, and chose not to, again, in 2011, again for various discreditable reasons. Mr. Mandel, along with his media colleagues, has forfeited his right to criticize the main stream (liberal/progressive) media, let alone any right to complain about Obama and Obama’s destructive agenda–most of which had been implemented, with the remainder just around the corner. Democrats do what Democrats do. Do not delude yourselves about who is responsible for Obama and this nation’s ruin.

  3. LOUIS OFFEN says:

    I don’t understand why Lois Lerner isn’t granted immunity and forced to testify before Issa’s committee, just as Oliver North was granted immunity and testify as to Contragate. Is it more important to get a felony conviction against her, that is if she in fact committed any prosecutable crime, then to get out the facts of this matter? It seems unlikely in any that she will ever be prosecuted for anything, so what reason(s) for no grant of immunity in return for her testimony before still more time goes by? Does anyone have even a semi-plausible reason for not doing so other than Issa’s desire to drag it out for political effect?

    It seemed that the Z Street case might force more out in the open, but Issa’s committee hasn’t pursued it and clearly DOJ is doing all it can to keep that matter from going to trial in our life times.


    If there is no evidence against one, one skates. If retrieving evidence is way too onerous (so why have all this back-up?) , one skates. If this persistent search for what and who becomes tedious, or confusing, one skates. I sure applaud those who do persist. And there sure are a lot of people getting fat on the IRS strategy of destroying evidence, whether they want to or not.

  5. JAY KANTER says:

    After reviewing hundreds of articles concerning this scandal I come to the only conclusion possible and that is that Lois Lerner was employed by the I.R.S. but was in fact working for Obama and the Democratic Party to attack their political enemies. Everyone who started this attack was Democratic Party Senators and Congressmen who corresponded with Lois Lerner and others. Just watch how the entire Democratic Party and many in the news media is against this investigation in the House and Senate says everything.

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