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IRS Commissioner To Testify About Lois Lerner's Lost Emails

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AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite

The announcement came three days after Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, issued a statement saying the IRS had lost emails from a two-year period that were sent and received by Lois Lerner, the former head of the IRS' tax-exempt organizations division.

Lerner is the official who first publicly apologized for the IRS' treatment of conservative groups' applications for non-profit status, and she has since been the focus of multiple Republican investigations into the matter. Earlier this year, after Lerner continued to refuse to answer questions from his committee, asserting her Fifth Amendment rights, House Oversight Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) told reporters his long-running investigation into the IRS may have hit a "dead end." In May, the House voted to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress.

In response to the investigations, the IRS has agreed to turn over tens of thousands of Lerner's emails. But the agency said a 2011 computer crash made an unknown number of emails from the period between January 2009 and April 2011 irretrievable. Not all Lerner's emails from that period are missing -- lawmakers have or will be given Lerner's emails written to or from other IRS employees. What they don't have are any emails written "to or from Lerner and persons outside of the IRS," as Camp put it in a letter to President Obama sent Monday.

The issue is enough for Republicans to ask more questions. On Monday, Camp announced that his committee was interviewing IRS information technology personnel, had sent requests for all communications between Lerner and person working at the White House, Treasury, and the Justice Department (among other agencies). Camp said Koskinen had agreed to testify to his committee on Tuesday, while Issa, in a separate statement, said Koskinen would appear before his committee on Monday.

“I will not tolerate your continued obstruction and game-playing in response to the Committee’s investigation of the IRS targeting," Issa said in a letter that accompanied a subpoena sent to Koskinen. "For too long, the IRS has promised to produce requested – and, later, subpoenaed – documents, only to respond later with excuses and inaction. Despite your empty promises and broken commitments to cooperation, the IRS still insists on flouting Constitutional congressional oversight."