IRS Shocker: Filing Reveals Lerner Blackberry Destroyed

The device was wiped AFTER Congressional inquiry began

Lois Lerner, the IRS head whose Blackberry was destroyed along with her hard drives. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Lois Lerner, the IRS head whose Blackberry was destroyed along with her hard drives. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

The IRS filing in federal Judge Emmet Sullivan’s court reveals shocking new information. The IRS destroyed Lerner’s Blackberry AFTER it knew her computer had crashed and after a Congressional inquiry was well underway. As an IRS official declared under the penalty of perjury, the destroyed Blackberry would have contained the same emails (both sent and received) as Lois Lerner’s hard drive.

We all know by now that Lois Lerner’s hard drive crashed in June 2011 and was destroyed by IRS. The emails of up to twenty other related IRS officials were missing in remarkably similar “crashes,” leading many to speculate that Lois Lerner’s Blackberry perhaps held the key. Now, the Observer can confirm that a year after the infamous hard drive crash, the IRS destroyed Ms. Lerner’s Blackberry—and without making any effort to retain the emails from it.

Judge Sullivan has had to pry information from the IRS to learn anything about Ms. Lerner’s Blackberry. Now, with these latest revelations, I’m confident he’s not finished.

In two elusive and nebulous sworn declarations, we can glean that Ms. Lerner had two Blackberries. One was issued to her on November 12, 2009. According to a sworn declaration, this is the Blackberry that contained all the emails (both sent and received) that would have been in her “Outlook” and drafts that never were sent from her Blackberry during the relevant time.

With incredible disregard for the law and the Congressional inquiry, the IRS admits that this Blackberry “was removed or wiped clean of any sensitive or proprietary information and removed as scrap for disposal in June 2012.” This is a year after her hard drive “crash” and months after the Congressional inquiry began.

The IRS did not even attempt to retrieve that data. It cavalierly recites: “There is no record of any attempt by any IRS IT employee to recover data from any Blackberry device assigned to Lois Lerner in response to the Congressional investigations or this investigation,” according to Stephen Manning, Deputy Chief Information Officer for Strategy & Modernization.

Lerner was issued another Blackberry for Valentine’s Day 2012—also after she came under fire for her targeting

A Blackberry Q10 (Kārlis Dambrāns - Flickr: Licensed under Creative Commons/Wikimedia Commons)

A Blackberry Q10 (Kārlis Dambrāns – Flickr: Licensed under Creative Commons/Wikimedia Commons)

of conservative groups. The IRS still has that Blackberry. It’s now in the possession of the Inspector General of the Treasury, but the new device would not have the data from the prior three years. That was most likely the point of getting the new device.

According to Mr. Manning, however: “standard IRS practice and policy in the collection of electronic data does not include collecting data from Blackberry devices because the email of a Blackberry user is collected through the process of collecting the contents of the user’s Outlook mailbox files.” Notably, the affidavit does not explain IRS standard procedure for handling the technology of individuals who are the subject of Congressional oversight hearings or of retrieving data on a Blackberry after its owner’s computer has crashed. One would think that was a “no-brainer.”

This most recent revelation of destruction of evidence and refusal to retain data and documents despite a Congressional inquiry is beyond outrageous. It screams of guilt and creates a presumption in the law that the evidence would prove what those who were targeted and harassed claim. Judge Sullivan, like most Americans, wants the “missing” emails that we all know are there somewhere.

Aside from the fact the IRS was required to keep hard copies, we now know they should exist on Blackberry servers as well as Google and perhaps others. Indeed, the Department of Justice has disclosed that they all should be on a government server—as we suspected.

Judge Sullivan has already appointed federal Magistrate Judge John Facciola to assist the parties in finding the emails on other devices. Between the two of them, they can demand production of the emails from the servers, and there are still more questions to answer.

What are all the servers the emails went through? Blackberry is touted as the most secure, so surely the emails should be found there. All of the data on her current Blackberry should be provided immediately to Judge Sullivan, for whatever insight it might provide. There’s no reason for the IRS to hold out on that. It should be given to Darrell Issa and Congress also. Nothing required in the production of the emails through the Blackberry could possibly hamper the Inspector General’s investigation.

And what about “ghost” email accounts? The IRS should be able to determine, or Judge Sullivan can, whether any of the officials whose emails are missing used personal accounts or other names for business emails they didn’t want going through the federal system even though they were required to do so.

One thing is clear: the IRS has no interest in recovering the emails. It has deliberately destroyed evidence and another direct source of the emails it claims were “lost.” It has been blatantly negligent if not criminal in faiing to preserve evidence and destroying it instead.

Don’t be surprised if Judge Sullivan decides it’s time to order production of everything on that Blackberry, issue subpoenas to third party servers including Blackberry for the dates covered by the Blackberry the IRS destroyed, unleash Judge Facciola, allow Judicial Watch more discovery, prohibit the IRS from destroying anything else, and start a list of lawyers who would make a good special prosecutor.

Sidney Powell worked in the Department of Justice for 10 years and was lead counsel in more than 500 federal appeals. She served nine U.S. Attorneys from both political parties and is the author of Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice.