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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  June 21, 2014 6:00am-7:01am EDT

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the most. >> with the ticket with the irs be able to track with the issue was that was being have a? >> i don't know the details of the ticket are but i know from the correspondence in e-mails that it was a hard drive crash and from some of ms. lerner's e-mails that she was unable to get to her e-mails. >> could you check based on the ticket who handled that particular id issue and how it was resolved, tracking mechanism within the irs of? >> i don't know what the ticket would show but we'll be happy to make sure you have the ticket and any information related. >> can you tell me who at the irs in the i.t. area handled ms. lerner's computer crashed issued in 2011? >> yes. it was a front-line, corresponds with within a front-line i.t. manager. what was not ordinary was when it could be retrieved by the normal i.t. experts to have scented expert at the criminal investigation division which was an additional step taken -- >> could you tell me what caused
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the crash itself? >> i do not know what caused the crash. in fact, my understanding, computers, three to 5% of them crashed as a general industry standard and there's no way to know why. >> can you rule out what you know are based on these tickets can you rule out that lois lerner destroyed her own computer? can you rule that out? >> there's no evidence that she did. if she had -- >> can you rule that out? >> you can never rule a something you don't know but at this point they're so evidenced -- the evidence issue worked very hard to restore her e-mail. >> can you answer the questions about hard drive crashes for the other six in toys as well that were involved in the targeting? similar situation. can we make sure they were not intentionally -- >> we are investigating that right now. will give you all of the information we are able to determine about windows computers crashed, whether in the nose were lost, what's been done with a hard drive should extent they are still available. they will be made available. [inaudible] >> thank you. mr. pascrell is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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let me give you 15, 20 seconds -- i'm over here. spent you are behind the photographer. >> to answer one of the questions you were able to answer before, question, you wanted to correct the record. >> i started to correct the record, as i said in my testimony, written testimony, we knew with the i.t. ticket in february there been a crash. what we didn't know until late april was what the implications were. had the e-mails been lost? if so, whether other e-mails that were from lowest in that timeframe. so i've been consistent except fofor the one point i don't. >> thank you. do you agree when the irs grants a group exempts status, that means that there's an advantage of one group as compared to another group and how they are
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taxed x. it's important. and i do know what the number is of how much money the federal government doesn't take in because we do exempt, i me, the total amount of money. that's not my question. conveys a significant tax advantage to a group, whether they're left, right, north, south, doesn't matter. a significant tax advantage to that group. and its operations are being implicitly subsidized by you and me. you and i. >> that's correct. >> okay. is that correct of? >> that is correct. >> i'm not using hyperbole here, am i? that's exactly what happens. >> right. >> you actually think i'm going
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to ask your opinion. do you actually think they understand about what this is all about? i mean, this is not about what happened to the black box. this is about protecting the coverage that we have decided in our infinite wisdom to provide certain groups that are social groups but not political groups. now, do you believe the irs has a responsibility to protect it the taxpayers of this country by ensuring that the groups that we allowed to operate as tax exempt are operating in a way that is consistent with the law? >> ideal, and that applies to all 501(c)(4) organizations. >> according to the law in this area, tax exempt 501(c)(4)
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groups are required to operate exclusively for social welfare and that that must be their primary purpose. am i correct or incorrect? >> that is correct. the regulation provides your primary purpose has to be social welfare. >> let me ask you this. can you describe the process that the irs currently uses to determine a 501(c)(4) group is really a social welfare group, or is engaging in inappropriate amount of political activity? is that an intensive process that requires a lot of money, requires a lot of manpower? explained. >> it is a consultative process. we have 1,006,000 tax exempt
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organizations -- >> how many? >> 1,600,000 total of which somewhere in the range of 100 or one 50,000 rc for social welfare organizations. a lot of them, people of nothing to do that. women were stationed applies for exempt and, the historic process has been their activities or proposed activities will be determined on a facts and circumstances test and then there are a long set of examples and complicated regulations that describe how to determine the amount of activity that is social welfare activity and what kinds of activities and the facts and circumstances are political activities. so it is a complicated process. >> but it is intensive? >> it is intensive. >> and it should be spent and it is what? >> it should be. >> yes. we -- >> in the last four years how many organizations went from
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501(c)(4)s to like any other organization in the last four years? >> answer quickly please. >> i don't know the answer but i will get that spent mr. chairman? >> yes. >> parliamentary inquiry. >> yes. please take your parliamentary inquiry. inquiry. >> since we're being summoned to vote and not all members will be given a chance to ask questions, i would like to know if those of us who do not have an opportunity to questio questione witness base of the comments and questions for the record speaks yes. and my plan is to recess and come back after votes, but -- >> some of us have travel plans. >> yes, but members will be able to cement questions. mr. marchant. >> -- to submit questions. >> microphone. >> i keep forgetting to turn mine on as well. >> this one is working. i'm privileged to have a
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district that has a vast number of people that are very high-tech, so mr. chairman, i'd like is a bit for the record a letter from one of my high-tech people that have some suggestions on how you may recover some of these e-mails that we are looking for. >> without objection, so order ordered. >> can i have a copy of the letter as well speak as i can provided to you. >> that would be great. >> this entire inventory was started because their constituents in our district that were harassed and treated differently by the irs, and whether we get all the e-mails, ever get all the e-mails involved in this, i think it has already been established that it this, this committee is dealing with this issue today not because it's a witch hunt but because we, our citizens and our
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districts were discriminated against. and treated badly by the irs. so that is why we are here today. do you believe it's important for this committee to receive all of the e-mails from ms. lerner's e-mail account and all of the e-mails from all the persons that have been identified of interest in this case the? >> i've always thought that was important. >> is the irs and its e-mails exempt from monitoring by the fbi or the nsa? >> i have no information about that, but i know indication that we are exempt from anybody's monitoring. >> so we don't know that the e-mails are not totally all recoverable in some process? >> if, if the nsa was monitoring
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all of our e-mails and collecting them and saving them someplace, then they might be there but i'm not aware that that was done. >> have you, as the commissioner, partially contacted the white house, the treasury, the federal elections commission in any of the possible federal agency that lois lerner may have contacted by e-mail? >> i have not contacted any of those agencies about any of the issues involved in this investigation, including her e-mail. >> would you be willing to commit to this committee that you will contact these agencies and request from them that all females that they have on their records and can produce for lois lerner and all the people of interest and request of them that they furnish them to? >> is good at it is all requested. would have authority over them and i'm delighted to note that the white house and treasury
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already have produced those, but with the other committees i'm happy, on behalf of the committee make a request that they provide any e-mails that they may have. if you'll give me that, remind me in a list of the agencies again that would be helpful. >> i will submit it to you in writing. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. ms. black. >> turn one. thank you commission, for being here today. i'm a bit confused about the timeline here and what was known of what was not known about ms. lerner's computer. and the crash of a computer and, therefore, the lack of our ability to be able to get all of the e-mails. this is, for about a year and half now and i have read in a test and before you came and that i know you read your testimony to us it appears that the first time you were made aware that there was actually a crashed computer was when you saw the date dissipation of e-mail was uneven. and i isn't that correctly that that is the first time at unit
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about the crashed computer was when you determine after all these files were given and went back to look at them, you did a limited search and you said there is something wrong here because there is an unevenness division. was that the first time you were made aware that there was a crashed computer? >> that's the first time i was aware. that pattern cause people to do an investigation and they found that had been a crashed so i wasn't told to separate issues. i was told i was a pattern problem and i.t. have determined that had been a computer crash. >> during this period of time i think it very interesting that as we're asking for these e-mails and asking for them over and over and over again and they're not coming back to us in a timely fashion, this was prior to your even getting there, that all of the sudden you look and say wait a minute, we don't have e-mails from this time created, something else might of got on, that's when we find out where you find out or anybody in the agency that has been getting this request from us and other, from the oh, gee argument for
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him is, that's a first it's not that? i find that to be very curious. no one else knew? know what else would else knew? nortel's become a cynic with you to find this out because you saw that there was some kind of a given tissue vision and the dates. does that seem odd to you? >> no. the way the e-mails are pulled out of pool of e-mails that are in the server there is they're all pulled together in just a pool. the e-mails are extracted initially in 11,000 of them were provided in response to the search terms of don't get pulled out by -- >> i know how many e-mails to give talked about that so many times. spent i'm guessing they get pulled out initially by subject matter which -- >> let me just finish because i want -- this discussion, and you said you're a discussion of hard drive was made three years ago. the hard drive a finance of the ig. i'm confused. >> two hard drives. the hard drive that was recycled and destroyed was the har hard e the crash and 2011.
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a new hard drive was provided to ms. lerner and she used that from then on and that hard drive -- >> the crashed hard drive is going? >> it was going three years ago. the replacement hard drive was preserved and is in the hands of the inspector general. >> so we still do have a crashed hard drive that is not recoverable, that is missing that information and will never get it because it's somewhere, on? >> three years ago. >> is it not to there are also a requirement by law that you keep paper records as well if computers do go down? do not have paper records that are required speak as we are required by law to keep paper records of official records, and as a definition of the federal records act whether official records offer agency transactions. and then the employee is to point them out, create a copy of it and preserve it. >> okay. so i find it all to be very curious that in all of these questions of us asking for these e-mails all of a sudden just recently someone comes up to say
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oh, by the way, lois lerner's e-mail our hard drive has crashed and we destroyed it, it is gone. can't reach with it. these six other computers that we talk about gore the other custodians, i find that really curious, too, that that would be limited to the. maybe you can help you. are there other computers that use down? what percentage of total computers have crashed within the department? are there more than just the six? if there are six people that are connected with this, then you may have had a huge crash over there with this many computers being crashed inches will we are asking for. >> the industry standard is get three to 5% failures which may -- >> sound that spent across 95,000 employees. >> six of them that are related to this but -- >> the 82 we've looked at at this point we're looking at seven, which is within what the
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industry norm expects which is why -- >> i have one more question for you because my time is going to run out. have you had any information that is taxpayer information loss due to these crashes the? >> i've had no indication that taxpayer information -- >> so this information is lost but all of this information, millions of taxpayers have not crashed, not been lost, not been destroyed? >> there have been thousands of hard drive crashes in the irs across the time spent but we haven't lost any taxpayer information? >> that i know. tax information is saved in separate files. >> mr. chairman, thank you very much. commissioner, welcome. let me start by saying i understand suspicions of the majority upon hearing to years worth of e-mails just disappeared. put the shoe on the of the. when democrats were investing in the live lies and encompass of e
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bush administration, we would be in disbelief at this ineptitude as a. as we were, for example, when the learned the bush white house admitted that lost nearly 5 million, 5 billion e-mails between march 2003 and october 2005 related to the allegations of a politically motivated dismissal of then u.s. attorneys. fofortune we can put suspicious minds at ease today. the inspector general for the irs, a man named j. russell george who was republican political appointee of president george w. bush has already testified that ms. lerner did not learn about the inappropriate criteria being used in local since the irs office until a meeting at june 29, 2011, least 16 days after ms. lerner's hard drive crashed. yes, her computer crashed more than two weeks before she was notified about the inappropriate
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actions happening in cincinnati. like those who continue to refuse to believe that the birth certificate from the state of hawaii is actually real, a conspiracy theorist will continue to rattle sabers, but really does anyone in this room want to be seen in that light? commissioner graham as i mentioned, welcome. today, the irs has provided over 770,000 pages of documents involved in this investigation, is that correct? >> that's correct. >> included in those thousands of pages of e-mails, powerpoint presentations and notes deliver to congress over nine months ago. wasn't there information that specifically mentions the crash of ms. lerner's computer? >> yes. overtime starting in the fall and through the spring, the e-mails from lowest about her computer failure and e-mails about the attempt to restore it have all been provided to this
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committee. committee. >> so the crashed should come as no surprise. no surprise if the majority were actually reading the documents that the irs was sending up. you may not want to answer that question. do you think american taxpayers would be upset to know that this phony investigation has already cost them over $60 million counting when the republicans aren't even doing the basic due diligence of reading the documents that you're providing and sending to congress? i would message want you to answer that question. commissioner, or could be the majority in their zeal for an academy award for the best outrage in the state drum are more said they were caught not actually reading the documents the rss set up, thereby providing, proving that they are more concerned with a show trial than an actual, that actually finding answers? once again i'm not going to ask you to answer that question. the democrats on this committee have been outraged as has been
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said over and over again from the first award about ms. lerner's apology to a tax conference. we are anchored by any singling out of a tax exempt application based on ideology whether it be for progressive groups or tea party extremists. contrary to what mr. ryan said, progressive groups were targeted as well. that's a full statement he made. we led the charge for hard to be fired. we have agreed to oversight hearings over the finances. and for that reason, mr. chairman, an effort to get to the truth the next hearing on this matter should be with the inspector general of the irs who has not been before this committee for over a year. anything else would show that this committee is not using its time and resources seriously. without i think the commissioner for being here today and i yield back the balance of my time spent thank you. the commi
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that had been searched to see if there was anything in there information beyond the relevant information that were emails which was by the april we were able to determine we reviewed them all, produced them all yet but there were 24,000 emails from other accounts. at that point, as we were pulling to get all that done, i asked, all right i would like to know on the other two cust toad yans because hard drives crash all the times, how many had a hard drive issue. he responded, we just learned
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this morning, that there are the one that failed in february and add two more we found as we're moving through this, that this is what we don't know anything about it. person sayingin a emails are lost, an important person, her emails are gone, this is all part of a who knows what, document destruction. it turns out, as they say, we'll give everybody the information, but no, there's no indication that a single email of note has been lost and part of the reason that you have this hearing saying what else do you know is we don't know because we're in the middle of production. ite in retrospect, we need to find as much information as we can about what happened with her email, fortunate we have this trail that shows how hard she worked to get it back, how many other emails can we find if we had this hearing three or four weeks ago in response to advice to the
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congress, we wouldn't know there were 24,000 lois learner to prov much information as we can and to try to help this committee get the closure. because at some point, somebody's going to write a report which i have welcomed and facts, l, look at the look at the recommendations and go forward. it is an important issue. we were concerned as we tracked it down. i am pleased we were able to find 23,000 emails from that time. i am pleased that it's clear you worked hard and the agency worked hard to restore those emails. i'm pleased the white house and the treasury have released all their lois lerner documents so there's not an issue that went outside the agency because she didn't copy anybody that by definition wouldn't have been picked up in the internal issues. but from april on any emails
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that were out would have been found and would be part of the production that we've had. so, i think it's an important issue but it's obviously gotten caught up in the mail strom which has been ongoing ever since the affordable care act passed. >> are you at all concerned, house republicans are still going to think you guys are covering this up? >> well, there will always be a group of people who don't believe the government is up to any good, who think that given the chance they're going to cover things up. i think in this particular case, the evidence is very clear, if not overwhelming, that in 2011, before these investigations started, a, there was no reason to try to defer your hard drive, and b, there was a great effort made to restore the emails. somebody was trying to get rid of emails, that's not the way you would do it. >> before deleting an email out
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of your inbox you should print it out. >> if it's a federal record. >> did lois lerner print out emails? >> she did, and some of the production, i don't know how many, some of the production are hard copies. >> are you taking any look at the irs's compliance with the act, any disciplinary action that do not follow? >> i asked sometime ago we be prepared when the dust settles that we take a look at our entire email system, about kuwaited as it is, try to figure out to an earlier question, how would we have something more easily searchable. it's not our interest to have thousands of employees responding if we have a system that could more easily connect the email and respond more quickly. more recently i asked questions, i said we also need to review what is our policy. part of or problem because of
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the system we have is our email system is not a system of record. some age says that have more modern systems automatically collect official records as part of the email system. we don't do that, we're still the record act was passed in 1950, so it was all paper then, so we're still operating with paper. so i told people we need to take a look at that, at the entire system, because going forward, at the end of my three and a half years remaining in my term which i would like everybody to know i'm going to complete, i think i would like the irs to be in a position where if somebody needed to do a search, you would be able to do it relatively efficiently, you wouldn't have to create the time and management and financial commitment it takes to respond. we are trying to respond, but i understand the frustration it takes longer with places with more modern systems. >> thank you and the program
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will continue soon. e-mails.
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the committee will resume. mr. reid is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, commissioner, for being here today. and thank you for allowing us to go vote and come back and continue the hearing, mr. chairman. this is a really important issue. obviously. and now here the loss of some
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critical e-mails to me is something that i don't understand how that could happen him why that could happen, but i want to get to the bottom of it as much as possible. one of the things i found in your testimony that was intriguing was the actual referral of lois lerner's hard drive, and how she went about to try to recover quote-unquote these e-mails. so my understand is that she asked the i.t. representative, my hard drive failed, there's a problem with it, can you take a look at it. that makes sense to me. but then there's another step. there's a step or it was referred to your criminal investigation department, your forensic experts in the irs. those are the folks that are well-trained in the air of criminal investigations and these are top notch forensic people, correct? >> correct. >> okay. so there's about 11 day, maybe
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12 days like july 20 where the technician, the i.t. guy goes to lois lerner supposedly to lois lerner supposedly and says we can't do anything about it and then all of a sudden she told about 12 days later as a last resort were sending your hard drive to the ci, the criminal investigation irs division for the forensic lab. who was involved in any of those decision makings that you're aware of during the third of time to send it to the forensic lab? >> i don't know any of the names of people caused it to go there. as i noted in my testimony, it's an extra in her step in the sense normally if a hard drive is the retrievable it would simply be destroyed. >> that's my question because you are referencing your testament is an extraordinary effort and to we deal with a hard drive situation for three years from three years ago, and yet there's an extraordinary
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step taken to senate to the forensic laboratory interest into who made that decision, why the decision was made and also the follow-up questions in writing so -- >> that would be fin fine but my understanding to some e-mails that end that, it was reflection of ms. lerner's strong attempt to try to recover e-mail. >> you think ms. lerner is what you asked it to go to the criminal investigation and? >> i don't know whether she was not. i wish of pushing very hard to get the e-mails. on occasion criminal investigation would be the but it's an extraordinary step because as you note they are very good at this. there's been a most of the time with speed and i know i am running on limited time. on the fringe, these are the well-trained people. when i've ever dealt with criminal investigations, people like david reichert, police officer, there's reports that they go through. have you seen reports that the criminal investigation forensic report people provided as they did their review of lois lerner's hard drive? >> i have not.
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>> are there any reports that exists that the criminal invested passionate investigation forensic unit would have? >> i don't know. >> do they typically? they are your criminal investigators. you referred this matter three years ago supposedly to the criminal investigation unit to be complete forensic. these are the guys that we watch on tv. >> that's right. >> also they're doing an investigation as to why this hard drive failed is my understanding. isn't that correct? >> there are any number of reason us what a drive fails. they would dash mess option would be they wouldn't care why it failed to the art, the request was -- >> no, no, no. they are criminal investigators but if there's malfeasance -- >> also several investigators. >> criminal too designed to catch criminals. they are trying to figure out what criminal behavior potentially, if i get a referral, if you send a hard drive for criminal investigator in the ir irs mindset is a lookg for illegal activity. did somebody potentially damage
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this hard drive on purpose? what caused the damage? isn't something they would do in normal course of business? >> they all did civil cases. all of our civil prosecutions and cases are investigated by -- >> would you agree the criminal investors are looking for criminal activity and if someone is trying to hide evidence, destroyed evidence that is relevant to a tax receding that they are the guys who look into the forensics of the computer program to figure out what's going on? >> they will do that on occasion. there's no indication they were doing anything other than -- >> they receive this hard drive on something as critical as this. that's what i'm asking this question. very interested in a what those forensic folks, who they were -- do you know who they were? >> i don't who they were. >> who they were, when they completed it, the documentation for chain of evidence purposes that they evidence purposes that they're trendy but i would like to know what those records are and have them provided to our office. i guess my time has expired. without i yield. >> that's fine. >> thank you. >> visteon is recognized.
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>> mr. commissioner, -- mr. young is recognized. >> you mention a number of times today that the irs learned of certain things at certain periods of time, that perhaps even your office learned of certain things in different periods of time. i'd like to know, and you correct me if you've only spoken to this, when you knew personally as commissioner of the irs, when you knew that we had a problem, the e-mails were lost or destroyed, that that constituted a larger issue and so forth. >> when i first was devised about it we did know whether any e-mails have been lost or destroyed. but in february speech when we first advised of it, just so i'm clear? >> in february i was advised there was an issue with her e-mails, and subsequently in the same time i was advised about that and there was evidence that they been a hard drive crash but nobody knew what the implications of that were in
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terms of whether any enough said the loss or whether the hard drive had been recovered but all i knew was advised and if edward was that there was an issue with the initial production review of e-mails once we've started looking at all of her e-mails, and that there was a hard drive crash and we need to investigate what that meant. that's what preceded going forward by mid-march, we are determined, found the fact that there've been an attempt to constitute a hard drive unsuccessfully, then started reprocessing all of her enough to make sure that when i missing and reprocessing all of the custodial enough to see what e-mails of ms. lerner's were unavailable. >> okay. so you thought it was presumably premature at that point, given the opportunity offer all the context you wanted to. premature to notify this committee or anyone else of your knowledge, personal knowledge? >> might approach was we needed to know, a., what this meant,
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what they been the result and bill dudley with e-mail if anyone failed and what e-mails we could find which were not available. we gave a fulsome report that would be more productive and, in fact, that's been my normal -- >> and others have spoken to the fulsome nest of that report so i won't get into that. we've invoke the federal record-keeping act. you can result in voted on at least one occasion, federal records act that requires agencies to store and preserve certain documents are applied to the irs change its document retention policy in may of 2013, the same month lois lerner announced this targeting initiative? >> irs, i wasn't about my understanding they changed their document retention policy in may in response to this investigation. in other words, once the investigation started, the instructions went out to save all e-mails of everyone, that we
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would no longer recycle them every six months, that we would, in fact, -- nothing was changed. >> please expend why the irs did not instead -- please explain why the irs do not instead change its document retention policy when tigta initiated its investigation and started working with the irs whereupon it presumably became clear that there was a document retention problem. >> i wasn't there, and started the tigta but if we don't there is no evidence at this point we know of that any e-mails were lost after that point in time. time. >> okay. >> i would stress as i've noted several times the final request i made was to review all custodians and that process has been going on, we got it inefficient of those this weekend we are reviewing that and will share all of that information with you as well. >> okay. it's my understanding that
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ms. low, the new head of the tax exempt and government entities division has resumed audits of 501(c)(4) organizations that were selected for examination during the targeting and due to political activity. these audits were suspended after the acting commissioner warfel express concerns they may have been tainted by targeting. given these concerns and evidence lois lerner improperly influence the audit selection of right wing group and why would the irs choose to reopen these audits the? they were actually left as painting is my decision that those organizations deserve the right to get the closure on that. we made it clear to them that whatever kuester documentation in the past which may or may not have been overreaching would not apply. we would do this in a straightforward way. my that was it was important to let them know that they could get to closure. we expect that we will. >> but these groups were targeted, we now know, and
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resumed audits among a body of different groups that may have been improperly targeted, and that seems not only counterintuitive but certainly televised. >> if you could answer briefly. >> to the extent that an audit had begun it seemed to me better for them and better for the process to close those so there was no implication that we completed the audit they might've actually been decertified or had a problem. so we are moving toward closure and we don't have any reason to assume that they won't all be cleared and that they will be able to operate properly. >> thank you, sir. >> mr. kelly. >> thank you for having him. good to see you again. we had about an hour's conversation earlier this week. the one thing we both agreed on is that i believe there's almost irreparable damage done to the agency, and the process continues to unwind, makes it harder for the american people.
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i'm talking about average everyday people who are held to an entirely different set of standards when it comes to what the irs means for them, document, information they need to keep for a long, long time. and when you're on the other side of the table you are not allowed to say, my hard drive crashed, you know this stuff goes. i just can't get to it. but one of the things i think that really makes this important, this is nothing to do with the irs by the way and you and i agreed on that tuesday. but we do agree on is that they didn't the irreparable damage come and kind of building back again what he went off a couple hundred years but if you go back to i think daniel webster and chief justice marshall. they say the power to tax is the power to destroy. so for over two inches this has been in the back of peoples peos minds. i sat in the private sector and watched the irs coming. there's nothing more chilling than to get that letter or that call or that visit because you
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know right away it's going to be a tough day for you. now, whether people actually do that or not is another question. it's what people believe because perception israeli. israeli. i would yo just say to you on t. the only thing i look at -- perception is reality. we knew well investments learners e-mails were not going to be available. years ago we knew they weren't going to be available at a think the thing that bothers people on the committee is that we are told you will get everything, just give us a little more time. just give us a little more time. how much more time do you think not just this committee but the american people can withstand? i think we've reached a point where they are exhausted of waiting. is not an indictment of you because i think you're trying to do the right thing, but the agency right now is tainted. and it's kind of reaffirmed what most of us believe that we are guilty until we prove ourselves
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innocent but in this case of looking at this information. i can understand why, with all the knowledge we knew going back as far as 2011 that this stuff was a retrievable until ms. leonard results of sort, can't get it for you. as a last resort we sent your hard drive to ci, cruel investigation forensic lab to attempted data recovery. on august 2011 after three weeks of attempt to retrieve her e-mails, ms. lerner was but, unfortunately, the news is not good. the sectors on hard drive were bad which major data unrecoverable. i'm sorry to anyone tried to do the best. the irs new this. you see where i'm coming from the if you knew it so long ago why is it so difficult to just tell people the truth? not make using you but this is a very dangerous slope we're on. when do we tell the american people the truth? that truthfully right now we're not going to get an answer to
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what you're asking us. i just don't get it. what is the strategy as you move forward? how do you restore the faith and confidence of the people of the united states in this agency and in this body? we've all taken an oath to defend the constitution and yet there are two sets of rules. one for the general public, one for your agency. general public is not allowed to keep that record. general public is not allowed to have hard drives crash. the general public is not allowed to do some of the same things we've allowed the agency to do, which they don't understand. i can going back to our conversation on tuesday, where do you see this going because i does the upright into this anywhere along the way. at the very least it's going to come out of that some of people knew about this but refuse to be forthcoming about it. that's the best you can do in this. >> record should note that no one knew in the irs about this at the time we've been working on and to actually in february discovered it at the e-mails involved in fact are provided to
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skimming along the way a normal production and nobody -- >> no, no, no. that's not too. you knew in august, not you because you are there. the agency knew in august when leavitt they could retrieve this information yet we were told will get you everything. and the fact you have been forthcoming, not you but your agency as to the dilemma that now we face. we have reinforce the people's greatest fear that the irs is working with a completely different set of rules than the general public. people's constitutional rights been violated that we've chosen to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the american people and have continued to stonewall them hoping that somehow we can run out the clock. this is not a partisan issue. this is bipartisan and i don't to anybody say about an election but is it about an election? i was the it is but it's not the way they ended. i appreciate you being you. i admire what you're trying to do. i've got to tell you this is a long uphill climb to restore faith and confidence the american people have to have
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because -- >> the gentleman's time has expired. spin they don't trust us as much as they used to. >> mr. griffin. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, commissioner, for being here. i just want to follow up on a few of the issues. when asked by my colleagues why the timing of the disclosure regarding the hard drives june as opposed to me or april or march or earlier, you indicated that you thought it made sense to just wait and see you got all the information or did your analysis, or what have you and sort of want to do all that figured out, then let us know. i would just tell you having been a council on the house government reform committee, having served on this committee, having served in the white house and the department of justice, i wouldn't take that approach anymore.
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that's not the way this city works. when you know and anyone at the irs -- in fact i would say you were deserved by the legislative folks at the irs, if they did not tell you when you started, they should've walked in and said, this is a hot topic. there are numerous hearings on the hill. senators and members of congress, particularly the ways and means committee, is going to want to know what's going on with this lois lerner situation. by the way, we have some hard drive problems and we never told anybody. let's not wait. it's in everybody's interest to tell the hill. i know about the 770,000 documents and all that stuff. i used to be the guy on the house government reform committee who on a friday night got a box, got 10 boxes from the white house in the late '90s. i was the guy who actually went
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through those thousands. i can tell you the numbers are misleading. it is you get a bunch of blank sheets, a bunch of nothingness, not a lot of substance they're usually. yes, i understand your producing them, a bunch of them, but the number in and of itself doesn't tell you a lot. but the bottom line is i would have just, i would approach this committee differently, and if they do get a different response for talented because people here feel like they need to know and they wanted to be a conversation. they don't want it to be a situation, and i know how this works, where the left folks say of the white house as don't answer that unless they ask you specifically. if they don't ask the right question, don't give them that answer. i can tell you that happens all the time. and i know for a fact that it happened to one of my colleague here who is telling me earlier, not necessarily with you but with someone else. i'll give an example.
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so you interviewed in march of this year in a fellow committee and were interviewed by dr. boustany and there were numerous times when asked about the lois lerner e-mails. and you would say things like, we're going to produce them, we are working on reduction, we are looking at this, looking at that. there was never one mention of an issue as you describe it. never one mention of a glitch. and you know with all due respect, my daughter is here with me this week. that's like when she, i don't ask the right questions about what she ate, and then i find out that she ate a box of cookies, and she didn't tell me because i didn't ask the right question but she didn't tell me because she knew i would be mad. and i think you had numerous opportunities in these transcripts to just say, hey, we'll get you all the e-mails we have but i want you to know, we've got some problems, and you
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should know about the hard drive. and could never happen. we face this was lois lerner when we asked about the (c)(4)s. we never asked them the precise right questions so we never got our answer. i know how that game is played. i've been up here long enough and i'm saying if you want to get a different attitude from this committee, go ahead and share what the political people are telling not to share. just tell us. just tell us, share it, and if it's for plus it, we will ignore. one more thing, to have a question. you know if anyone in the irs has gone before a grand jury on this issue or do know of any grand jury subpoenas that have been issued on this investigation? >> i know of none. >> nine whatsoever. do you know of the department of justice investigation on this at all, criminal investigation? >> i don't have anything about that investigation. i got into the with anybody's
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investigation. >> thank you spent thank you. mr. renacci. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, commissioner, for being here and thank you for sticking around. just a couple of things to try to wrap up some things i heard. you testified earlier that three to 5% as a normal crash rate for hard drives. >> that's what i'm advised. >> there were 82 irs employees with some potential political role in political targeting, seven hard drives filled. that's approximately 9%. can you get me some information as to what the normal crash rate is for the irs computers? >> be delighted to get the. i'm advised what you get outside the were defeated the failure rate goes to 10 to 60% but we will get you that information. >> i appreciate that. the other thing that concern me based on what i'm hearing today is that there was a hard drive failure. it was realize. is being investigated, at some point in time someone said we can't get the information off of it. and then it was destroyed.
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is that a normal process to destroy, special in the of an investigation to destroy a hard drive? >> i would stress again that hard drive was never destroyed during the investigation. nothing has been destroyed during this investigation. that hard drive was destroyed three years ago after it was a retrievable in terms of e-mail and it had nothing to do with this investigation. -- after it was irretrievable but i would also tell you i've practice in front of the irs for about 25 years as a cpa. i've had come off as a very unusual. i will tell you, had some information that wasn't around, had the hard drives lost, had a lot of things occurred and had to listen to the irs say to them, why did you destroy, even though you weren't being audited back then, why would you destroy something that has information that might be needed? i know you talked about the three years and the 10 years but have also seen the irs bring a guy down on his knees in tears because they said we are going
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to prosecute you to the full extent of the law because you don't have the proper information. now, when did the standard change that the individual that you are auditing has to do certain things but the irs doesn't have to keep information or have to keep hard drives are have to make sure that their documentation is a? >> as the record will note from all the indication we have missed longer worked very hard in the i.t. department worked very hard to restore that information, not to lose it. >> i understand that, but when did it change that it would be a destruction of a document which is a hard drive, knowing that it could potentially, there's data onto that might be needed speak with nobody at the time use the data as being related to an investigation. as a general matter if an employee's hard drive fails and information cannot be retrieved, it is recycled and destroyed. >> i will also to you that it's interesting how you answer those
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questions. in your answers, i think you've heard people saying we have to restore trust to the american people. your answers probably should be that we're going to make sure that we look at our processes in the future. i wasn't here three years ago, and we're going to make sure we are not destroying hard drives until we fully know that they're not going to be an issue for the future. that would be what something i think the american people would rather hear and, well, it was destroyed, especially in this situation that we have today. >> it's a very good suggestion. ..
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>> i can tell you from past history that doesn't happen and in many cases i not going to tell you in all cases because you do have employees but in some cases i've seen them prosecute three full extent of the law that isn't clear when an individual says i don't have it, i've lost it, i don't have the ability to get it and i don't have other information to bring it together. this is all about the american people and of them having an opportunity to get some full space back in the irs but at the same time how are they ever going to do that when you stand there and say we didn't do anything wrong. yet when the other side when the
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taxpayers it in front of you and says i don't have the information. they are always prosecuted to the full extent of the law. >> thank you very much. with that of the hearing is now adjourned
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>> next, live, your calls and comments on "washington journal." then the senate hearing on high speed stop transactions. after that, we discuss the 2014 mid term elections. >> freedom of information process has pk a joke. it was already well on its way prior to the obama
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administration. they have perfected the stall, the delay, the redaxes, the excuses. and really it's shocking because i feel very strongly that the information that they withhold and protect many times belongs to the public. we own it, but there's no sense of that when you ask for it. they covet it as if they're private corporations defending their trade secrets rather than understanding what they hold is information they've gathered on our behalf. >> any award winning journalist sheryl atkinson on the changing face of news and her career, sunday night at 8:00. >> this morning on "washington journal" --
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host: good morning. on today's three-hour washington journal, we will discuss the west role in the ongoing violence in iraq. houseown of the new whit the we effort. we take up the topic of unaccompanied children are showing up at the u.s. border with mexico. at the white house announcing -- we are asking your thoughts on the growing crisis grade do you

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