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June 24, 2014

IRS head says no laws broken in loss of emails

WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the Internal Revenue Service said Monday he has seen no evidence anyone committed a crime when the agency lost emails that might shed light on the targeting of tea party and other political groups before the 2010 and 2012 elections.

Republicans in Congress aren't buying it. On Tuesday, they will hear from a White House official who once worked at the IRS.

Jennifer O'Connor worked at the IRS from May to November 2013, helping the agency gather documents related to the congressional investigations, said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight Committee. O'Connor has since moved to the White House counsel's office.

Issa subpoenaed O'Connor on Monday night after the White House declined his invitation to have her testify. After getting the subpoena, the White House relented.

Issa said he wants to question O'Connor about former IRS official Lois Lerner's lost emails. The IRS said Lerner's computer crashed in 2011, and emails she had archived on the hard drive were lost.

Lerner used to head the division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. The Oversight Committee is investigating the handling of applications from tea party and other political groups. Congressional investigators want Lerner's emails to see if there is evidence that anyone outside the IRS was involved.

"Before her promotion to the White House, Ms. O'Connor led the response to the congressional targeting inquiry and she is uniquely qualified to explain why attorneys did not focus on and flag Lerner's 'lost' emails at the outset," Issa said.

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, said, "Republicans have been trying desperately — and unsuccessfully — for more than a year to link this scandal to the White House."

David Ferriero, who heads the National Archives and Records Administration, was also scheduled to testify. The National Archives has asked the IRS to investigate the loss of records, and whether any disposal of data was authorized.

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