Tag Archives: Darrell Issa

DC Congressional Delegate: “You Don’t Have A Right To Know Everything” That The Government Does

On Friday during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing discussing the subpoena of a top presidential adviser from Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), Democratic District of Columbia delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton stated that “You don’t have a right to know everything in a separation-of-powers government.”

Norton made the comment while discussing the White House claiming immunity in response to a subpoena of presidential assistant and Office of Political Strategy and Outreach director David Simas.

Simas was subpoenaed by Issa to provide testimony to ensure that the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach is complying with law. Issa admitted there were no specific accusations of wrongdoing from Simas or the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, but nevertheless compelled Simas to testify because of past history of misbehavior from the Office.

After the White House refused to comply with the subpoena, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted to reject the claim of immunity. Norton appeared to disagree with the vote and repeatedly called Issa’s subpoena a “showcase fishing expedition.”

“The president’s immediate adviser is not an agency and this is not a matter of policy,” she said.

“You don’t have a right to know everything in a separation-of-powers government, my friend. That is the difference between a parliamentary government and a separation-of-powers government,” Norton continued.

Oversight Committee member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) apparently agreed with Norton, saying “I associate myself with your comments.” Cummings is also critical of the repeated subpoenas of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen regarding former IRS official Lois Lerner’s lost emails and possibly destroyed hard drive.

 

IRS Tech Experts Claim That Lois Lerner’s Hard Drive Was Only “Scratched”

In a press release Tuesday, the Ways And Means Committee discovered through interviews with IRS technology experts that former IRS official Lois Lerner’s hard drive was scratched, but not unrecoverable. In addition to this discovery, the release stated that professionals within the agency had advised the IRS to seek independent assistance to retrieve the data, and this recommendation was ignored.

According to the press release, “investigators have now learned from interviews that the hard drive of former IRS Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner was ‘scratched’, but data was recoverable.”

Not only did the press release contradict previous testimony claiming that all efforts to recover Lerner’s hard drive had been exhausted, but it also stated that “a review of internal IRS IT tracking system documents revealed that Lerner’s computer was actually once described as ‘recovered.’” IRS IT employees were unable to clarify exactly what “recovered” meant.

Last month, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen had testified that Lerner’s hard drive was unrecoverable and had been “recycled”, or destroyed. Koskinen said he was unsure if the hard drive had been smashed or melted down, but he admitted that it was indeed physically destroyed.

In another twist, IRS Deputy Associate Chief Counsel Thomas Kane testified on July 17th that he was unsure if backup tapes of Lerner’s emails were actually recycled. IRS officials had previously claimed that all backup tapes of emails were recycled after six months.

Experts say the IRS should have documentation of the elimination of  Lerner’s hard drive, but proof of its destruction is still yet to be found.

“From a purely contractual standpoint, if you send something over to a contractor, you would have to get a statement back saying they actually completed the work to actually pay them … because then you would know that it was destroyed,said government tech official Karen Evans.

What began as an inquiry into allegations of the IRS unfairly targeting conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status has grown into a mystifying examination of the incompetence of the IRS in its inability to properly keep records.

“The Committee was told no data was recoverable and the physical drive was recycled and potentially shredded.  To now learn that the hard drive was only scratched, yet the IRS refused to utilize outside experts to recover the data, raises more questions about potential criminal wrong doing at the IRS,” said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI).

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) disagrees with the investigation, and sent a letter to House Oversight and Government Reform Chair Darrell Issa (R-CA) objecting to Koskinen being called to testify a third time, declaring it “public harassment of an agency head”.

 

 

Federal Judge Orders IRS Explanation Of Lost Lerner Emails

Following the release of an email from former IRS official Lois Lerner warning that “we need to be cautious about what we say in emails” and asking if the IRS chat system could be searched, a federal judge ordered the IRS to explain how it lost countless other emails to and from Lerner.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan has given the IRS a month to provide an explanation: “I’m going to hold tight to that Aug. 10 declaration.” What explanation could be offered at this time is anyone’s guess.

Judge Andrew Napolitano appeared on Fox News with Neil Cavuto to talk about Sullivan’s order.

“It’s getting interesting, because while Congress is attempting to get information from Lois Lerner and her colleagues at the IRS about the so-called ‘missing’ and ‘crashed’ emails, two federal judges are doing so as well. And they have tools that the Congress doesn’t have,” said Napolitano.

“They have the ability to lock people up when they mislead, lie, lie to the court, or disobey orders. Just this afternoon, a federal judge by the name of Emmet Sullivan- in a case filed by Judicial Watch, those wonderful, ethical watchdogs in DC that keep the government’s feet to the fire, said to the IRS ‘you’ve got 30 days. I want certifications under oath. And every time you have a conversation about emails you can’t find, it’s going to be in the presence of another federal judge, and he is going to scrutinize everything you say’.”

On Wednesday, emails released by House Oversight Republicans revealed one potentially incriminating email in particular, in which Lerner wrote to another IRS employee:

“I had a question today about OCS [Microsoft Office Communications Server, the internal chat system used by the IRS] . I was cautioning folks about email and how we have had several occasions where Congress has asked for emails and there has been an electronic search for responsive emails—so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails. Someone asked if OCS conversations were also searchable—I don’t know, but told them I would get back to them. Do you know?”

“OCS messages are not set to automatically save as the standard; however the functionality exists within the software. That being said the parties involved in an OCS conversation can copy and save the contents of the conversation to an email or file,” replied IRS technology employee Maria Hooke. “‘My general recommendation is to treat the conversation as if it could/is being save somewhere, as it is possible for either party of the conversation to retain the information and have it turn up as part of the electronic search. Make sense?”

“Perfect,” wrote Lerner in response.

These emails were sent April 9, 2013 between Lerner, Hooke, and IRS Director for Exempt Organizations Exam Unit Manager Nanette Downing, and has fueled suspicion that Lerner has something to hide. On Thursday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) called this email exchange a “smoking gun”.

“This is Lois Lerner clearly cautioning people not to say things on email and be delighted to find out that the local instant chat they have, this Microsoft product, wasn’t tracking what they said,” said Issa.

“It’s very clear that on April 9, 2013, well into this investigation, she’s still on the job and she’s still covering her tracks and considering, if you will, whether they are covered,” he added.

Also on Thursday, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX), the same Congressman and vocal critic of Lerner and the IRS who asked the NSA to turn over Lerner’s missing emails and introduced “The Dog Ate My Tax Receipts Act,” has filed a motion to push the Congressional police to arrest Lerner for contempt of Congress.

Political commentator Charles Krauthammer called Stockman’s motion “almost as idiotic as impeachment”. “You don’t want stunts like the Sergeant of Arms of Congress arresting Lois Lerner for God’s sake,” said Krauthammer. “But what you do is you trust the courts because the Democrats, the administration and the IRS are going to have to respect what a judge does.”

Congressman Asks NSA To Turn Over Lois Lerner’s Metadata After IRS Loses Her Emails

One month after Congress held former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt for refusing to testify about her involvement in targeting conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, the IRS told Congress Friday that it lost over two years’ worth of crucial emails between Lerner and various federal agencies.

The agency claimed that the emails were lost because Lerner’s computer crashed in 2011.

“The fact that I am just learning about this, over a year into the investigation, is completely unacceptable and now calls into question the credibility of the IRS’s response to congressional inquiries,” said House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI). “There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the inspector general.”

In a press release, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) asked  NSA director Michael Rogers to release Lerner’s metadata, saying

 “the metadata will establish who Lerner contacted and when, which helps investigators determine the extent of illegal activity by the IRS.” 

In his email to Rogers, Stockman wrote:

I am writing to request the Agency produce all metadata it has collected on all of Ms. Lerner’s email accounts for the period between January 2009 and April 2011. The data may be transmitted to our Communications Director at Donny@mail.house.gov. Your prompt cooperation in this matter will be greatly appreciated and will help establish how IRS and other personnel violated rights protected by the First Amendment.

The IRS said it was able to gather 24,000 of Lerner’s emails that had been copied to other IRS employees. However, the vital missing emails are communications that were sent to agencies outside of the IRS, including “the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or Democrat offices,” according to Camp’s office.

House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa(R-CA) implied that the Obama administration has been deceptive in this sudden revelation of missing emails. “Do they really expect the American people to believe that, after having withheld these emails for a year, they’re just now realizing the most critical time period is missing?” Issa wrote in an email statement.

“The IRS has remained focused on being thorough and responding as quickly as possible to the wide-ranging requests from Congress while taking steps to protect underlying taxpayer information,” read an IRS statement.

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EPA Accused Of Impeding Independent Investigations

Washington- The EPA has been accused by the inspector general’s office of thwarting investigation into allegations of misconduct and functioning as a “rogue law enforcement agency” according to testimony on Wednesday.

“I’m very concerned that vital information regarding suspected employee misconduct is being withheld from the OIG,” said Assistant Inspector General Patrick Sullivan in testimony front of the House oversight committee.

Assistant Inspector General Patrick Sullivan testified that a unit inside of the EPA, the Office of Homeland Security, has been the blocking inspector general’s office’s attempts to investigate multiple accusations involving employee misconduct. The small unit is governed by the office of EPA administrator Gina McCarthy.

The inspector general’s office shared examples of misconduct complaints with the oversight committee, including a case in which an employee suffering from multiple sclerosis was allegedly paid $600,000 over five years to work from home but did not actually work. When investigation began, the employee retired.

In another complaint, an employee was paid for a year or more after moving to a retirement home and also allegedly produced no work for that time period. The employee was placed on sick leave after an investigation began.

Elisabeth Heller Drake, another inspector general, testified that the EPA asked her to cease investigation into an Office of Homeland Security employee after he allegedly assaulted Drake.

In prepared testimony, Sullivan wrote that “under the heavy cloak of ‘national security,’ the Office of Homeland Security has repeatedly rebuffed and refused to cooperate with the OIG’s ongoing requests for information or cooperation.”

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) echoed, “It’s disturbing that even investigations by this administration’s own nonpartisan watchdogs are being blocked by political appointees.”

EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe said that the EPA is devoted to the inspector general’s office and its mission to investigate waste, misconduct and fraud. He testified that Wednesday’s allegations are “not the norm”.

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