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GOP Investigators: Lerner Hard Drive Was Only 'Scratched'

Lerner's hard drive is the most recent focus of the GOP investigation into the targeting of conservative groups by the tax-exempt office of the IRS.
Committee chairman Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) speaks during a markup session of the House Ways and Means Committee on Capitol Hill July 10, 2014 in Washington, DC. The committee marked up House Resolution 645 which requests White House emails to former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner from 2009 to 2011. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKIBRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty ImagesAFP - Getty Images

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