An incredulous Rep. Paul Ryan is among the lawmakers grilling IRS Commissioner John Koskinen over the 'lost' Lois Lerner emails in the IRS targeting scandal, saying, 'I don't believe you. This is unbelievable. ... This is not being forthcoming ... this is a pattern of abuse.'
Published June 20, 2014 | FoxNews.com
WASHINGTON – Incredulous lawmakers tore into IRS Commissioner John Koskinen over the agency's claims that subpoenaed emails of ex-official Lois Lerner and other employees are gone forever because a hard drive was destroyed.
“This is unbelievable," Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., angrily told Koskinen. That’s your problem. Nobody believes you.”
Koskinen responded, “I have a long career. That’s the first time anyone’s said I don’t believe you.”
"I don't believe you," Ryan shot back again.
Koskinen set a defiant tone during his testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee, telling lawmakers he felt no need for the agency to apologize amid accusations of a cover-up in the targeting scandal of conservative groups. Republican lawmakers had demanded the emails between Lerner and other government officials - including at the White House - be turned over to determine whether there was a coordinated effort to stymie conservative groups prior to the 2012 elections.
“I don’t think an apology is owed,” he said. “We haven’t lost an email since the start of this investigation.”
That didn’t sit well with Chairman David Camp, R-Mich., who pressed the commissioner on the timeline of events and accused the agency of “keeping secrets.”
GOP lawmakers are furious after learning a week ago that many Lerner emails from a two-year period supposedly have disappeared. Committee Republicans now say that the IRS may have known about this for months, and that the agency may have lost emails from another six employees.
“The IRS in charge of hundreds of millions of taxpayers' information. And you’re now saying your technology system was so poor that years' worth of emails are forever unrecoverable?” Camp charged. “How does that put anyone at ease? How far would the excuse 'I lost it' get with the IRS for an average American trying to file their yearly taxes who may have lost a few receipts.”
The tone and exchanges between lawmakers and the commissioner frequently became heated.
Rep. Carl Levin, D- Mich., stood up for the IRS Friday and likened the investigation and calls of a cover-up to a political witch hunt brought on by Republicans who he claims will try “to tie the problem to the White House” and will “keep up this drumbeat until the November election.”
During the testy exchange between Ryan and Koskinen, Levin tried to intervene.
“Will you let him answer the question?” Levin asked Ryan.
Ryan responded angrily, “I didn’t ask him a question!”
Paul Ryan SMASH
Ryan to IRS Commissioner: 'I don't believe you'
Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) lit into IRS Commissioner John Koskinen over the missing Lois Lerner emails at a Friday House Ways and Means Committee hearing, flatly telling him he didn’t believe his excuse for them being gone.
The emails of Lerner, the former tax-exemption chief at the center of the investigation into IRS targeting of conservative groups, were reported lost in a “hard drive crash,” an explanation which Koskinen said was on the line.
“I’m sitting here, listening to this testimony, I don’t believe it,” Ryan said. “That’s your problem. Nobody believes you. The Internal Revenue Service comes to us a couple years ago and misleads us and tells us no targeting is occurring. Then it said it was a few rogue agents in Cincinnati. Then it said it was also on progressives. All of those things have been proven untrue.”
Ryan called Koskinen’s explanation for the loss of the emails “unbelievable.”
“You are the Internal Revenue Service,” he said. “You can reach into the lives of hard-working taxpayers and with a phone call, an e-mail or a letter you can turn their lives upside down. You ask taxpayers to hand onto seven years of their personal tax information in case they are ever audited and you can’t keep six months worth of employee e-mails? And now that we are seeing this investigation, you don’t have the e-mails, hard drives crashed. You learned about this months ago. You just told us, and we had to ask you on Monday.”
This is not being forthcoming, he said.
“This is being misleading again,” Ryan said. “This is a pattern of abuse, a pattern of behavior that is not giving us any confidence that this agency is being impartial. I don’t believe you. This is incredible.”
Koskinen retorted he’d had a “long career” and never been told no one believed him.
“I don’t believe you,” Ryan said again.
Rep. Sander Levin (D., Mich.) snapped at Ryan to let Koskinen answer a question, and Ryan yelled back, “I didn’t ask him a question!”