The Internal Revenue Service says it has lost a trove of emails to and from a central figure in the agency's tea party controversy.
The IRS told congressional investigators Friday it cannot locate many of Lois Lerner's emails prior to 2011 because her computer crashed that year.
Anyone who believes that the timing of this release (late Friday) is a coincidence, should choose the Gullible T-Shirt.
"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 Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. "There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the inspector general."
Of course there does, but will it happen? The FBI has impressive capabilities for the forensic investigation of computer data that is often requested to assist in investigations outside of its jurisdiction. The missing Malaysian flight investigation is one. The FBI was requested to examine the computers of flight MH370's pilots.
What are the chances though that Eric Holder will order the FBI to examine Ms. Lerner's computer? Anyone who thinks he that he shouldn't should chose the Shill T-Shirt.
"Isn't it convenient for the Obama Administration that the IRS now says it has suddenly realized it lost Lois Lerner's emails requested by Congress and promised by Commissioner John Koskinen?" (Darryl) Issa asked in an email statement. "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?"
Well, in a word, Yes. At least they are thinking the media won't give this much coverage and they can continue to spin their tale that this is a phony scandal created by nasty, partisan Republicans and kept simmering by Fox News. It's worked so often before, why wouldn't they expect it to work now?
Congressional investigators have shown that IRS officials in Washington were closely involved in the handling of tea party applications, many of which languished for more than a year without action. But so far, they have not publicly produced evidence that anyone outside the agency directed the targeting or even knew about it.
But an untold number are gone. Camp's office said the missing emails are mainly ones to and from people outside the IRS, "such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or Democrat offices.
It remains to be seen how the media and the American public will react to this news. Will it be the bombshell it deserves to be or a pop-gun the Administration wants it to be?
By now it should be evident to anyone with a critical eye, what the White House game plan is for any scandal. Execution begins with either the president or a spokesperson:
1) Express surprise and outrage and/or grave concern. Deny prior knowledge and explain that the first time the president learned of the matter was when he read about it in the paper or saw it on TV.
2) Promise to get to the bottom of it and report that the president has ordered appropriate investigations
3) Stall, stall, stall.
4) Attribute whatever illicit conduct there may have been to misguided or overzealous underlings way down the chain.
5) Have the president announce his belief that there's nothing to the scandal before the investigation is complete ("There's not even a smidgen of corruption at the IRS"),
6) Accuse Republicans and Fox News for blowing the matter way out of proportion and trying to create a phony scandal. These steps are not necessarily sequential and #6 can begin any time after #1 and continues through the process. It also relies heavily on shills like E.J. Dionne, Dana Milbank, Eugene Robinson, Paul Krugman, and the entire on-air staff of MSNBC (to name a few) to endlessly repeat and emphasize the mantra
7) Stall, stall, and stall, some more.
8) Appear to comply with all requests for information from congress (The IRS claims to have so far produced 750,000 document in response to congressional investigations of the IRS matter). In civil litigation this is known as a "document dump." It is intended to overwhelm the party that demanded the information, and make it extremely difficult to find a smoking gun or to be able to determine if a smoking gun might have been withheld.
9) Allow steps 1-8 to brew and stew for months if not years so that #6 can take full effect and the American people grow bored of the topic since nothing new seems to have come out of it.
10) Finally release a potential bombshell on a Friday afternoon; one that easily could have been revealed months before but was deliberately held back, relying on #9 to take effect.
Of course we can't be sure that #10 is always implemented because it only does when the White House is backed into a corner and has no choice.
It will not be surprising if we find that for some reason no one can explain, Lerner's old computer was destroyed months ago, or has simply and inexplicably vanished.
But this is just a crazy conspiracy rant. There's a perfectly logical explanation here. Choose your t-shirt.