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The IRS scandal: Do the Lois Lerner emails still exist?

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Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Suing over its targeting by the Internal Revenue Service for extra scrutiny, conservative group Judicial Watch now says Justice Department lawyers have told it that the supposedly lost emails of Lois Lerner, the targeting scandal's now-retired central figure, could be recovered. It's a stunning development — if true.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton contends that Justice Department lawyers said the government backs up all emails in case of catastrophe and that Ms. Lerner's missing emails from a two-year span following her hard drive's supposed 2011 crash thus can be found. But it adds that the backup system is “too onerous to search.”

An unidentified Obama administration official tells The Hill newspaper that Mr. Fitton's interpretation is wrong and that Justice lawyers simply referred to IRS email backup tapes recycled twice a year prior to the targeting investigation's start in 2013 and mentioned by IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in congressional testimony.

Fitton accuses the administration of “lying to the American people about Lerner's missing emails.” He vows to bring this “jaw-dropping revelation” to the attention of the judge presiding over Judicial Watch's lawsuit.

With this latest twist further clouding both the issue and the Obama administration's credibility, the situation cries out for a special prosecutor to cut through the murk.

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