Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee say that their investigators have learned that the hard drive belonging to former IRS official Lois Lerner was "scratched" and that data was recoverable, according to a release from the committee.
The release says that it's unclear if the scratch was put there deliberately or accidentally. Republicans are now accusing the IRS of not being forthcoming after they said in court filings that the data on Lerner's hard drive was unrecoverable.
"It is unbelievable that we cannot get a simple, straight answer from the IRS about this hard drive," Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) said in a statement, "The Committee was told no data was recoverable and the physical drive was recycled and potentially shredded. To now learn that the hard drive was only scratched, yet the IRS refused to utilize outside experts to recover the data, raises more questions about potential criminal wrong doing at the IRS."
Whether Lois Lerner's emails and data were lost has become the most recent focus in Republicans' investigation into the targeting of conservative groups by the tax-exempt office of the IRS.
Lerner pled the fifth during two appearances before the House Oversight Committee, which called her to testify about that targeting.
The IRS acknowledged last month that Lerner's computer experienced a hard drive crash in 2011, making some of her emails inaccessible for the investigation. Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen told the panel at that time that the IRS was taking measures to restore the emails and noted that the loss took place before the probe began.
NBC's Carrie Dann contributed to this report
First published July 22 2014, 1:14 PM
Frank Thorp V
Frank Thorp V is a producer and off-air reporter covering Congress for NBC News. He started this role in June 2011. Thorp is responsible for managing coverage of the Senate, and supports Capitol Hill correspondents Kelly O'Donnell and Luke Russert in their reporting on Congress.
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Previously, Thorp served as NBC News' long-term presence in Haiti after a devastating earthquake hit that country in 2010. Thorp has also worked at CBS News.
He studied psychology at West Virginia University, and lives in Alexandria, Va. with his wife and chocolate lab.