WASHINGTON — IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Wednesday that he won’t be able to produce all of former employee Lois G. Lerner’s emails and those of other key employees by the end of this year, pushing it beyond this year’s congressional elections.
In a heated exchange over whether he and his tax agency employees are cooperating in Congress’s investigations into tea party targeting, Mr. Koskinen said the amount of time it will take to look through and redact private information from the documents could last years.
“What they want is something that’s going to take years to produce,” he told the House Oversight Committee, which six months ago issued a subpoena for Ms. Lerner’s emails because the IRS wasn’t acting quickly enough.
That subpoena remains outstanding and both Republicans and Democrats on the committee said the IRS needs to speed things up.
“We don’t want the excuses anymore. Prioritize them. Put more lawyers on the job,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican who has helped spearhead the committee’s investigation into IRS targeting.
Ms. Lerner, who used to run the IRS’s division that processed nonprofit applications, has been a key subject of the investigation given emails and other information the committee discovered that, members said, suggested she let her political leanings dictate her official actions.
Mr. Koskinen said his agency was preparing to turn over another 20,000 pages of documents later Wednesday. But he said if Congress wants to change his focus, he could stop that production and send his lawyers back to review other areas.