Found Lois Lerner IRS emails subject of criminal probe

Investigators said Thursday they have recovered 32,000 emails related to a former IRS official at the heart of the agency’s tea party scandal.

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But they don’t know how many of them are new.

The emails were to and from Lois Lerner, who used to head the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. Last June, the IRS told Congress it had lost an unknown number of Lerner’s emails when her computer hard drive crashed in 2011.

At the time, IRS officials said the emails could not be recovered. But at a congressional hearing Thursday evening, investigators said they recovered thousands of emails from old computer tapes used to back up the agency’s email system. …

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The IRS’s inspector general confirmed Thursday it is conducting a criminal investigation

In a 2013 report, the inspector general said the IRS had improperly targeted conservative and tea party groups’ applications for nonprofit status, asking repeated intrusive questions and delaying their applications well beyond a reasonable time. Some of those groups are still waiting, with their applications now pending for years.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican and Oversight Committee chairman, said the ongoing investigations undercut President Obama’s assertion last year that there was no evidence of corruption in the IRS’s targeting.

“I have no idea how the president came to such a definitive conclusion without all the facts,” he said.

The IRS belatedly told Congress it may have lost some of Ms. Lerner’s emails after her computer crashed, and asserted that the backup tapes didn’t exist.

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