Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen said Friday that he does not owe an apology for computer crashes that resulted in the loss of emails connected to an ongoing probe.
"I don't think an apology is owed," Koskinen said during a tense hearing with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. "Not a single email has been lost since the start of this investigation."
Last week, the IRS acknowledged that the computer of Lois Lerner, the IRS employee at the center of the probe, experienced a hard drive crash in 2011, making some of her emails inaccessible for the investigation. Koskinen said the IRS is taking measures to restore the emails and noted that the loss took place before the investigation began.
Republicans suggested the disappearance of the emails - and the agency's delay in informing Congress about the loss - appeared to be part of a "cover-up" of past IRS treatment of certain political organizations. They accuse the agency of improperly targeting tea party groups seeking tax-exempt status.
"The American people have no reason to trust the IRS or, frankly, the administration on this issue," said House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich.
Budget chief Rep. Paul Ryan went further, telling Koskinen flatly that he didn't trust his testimony.
"This is not being forthcoming, this is being misleading again," he 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 isn’t credible."
Democrats on the panel described the hearing as a continuation of GOP "conspiracy theories" about the matter.
- Carrie Dann