tv [untitled] March 26, 2014 8:31pm-9:00pm EDT
and produce it. i understand it takes awhile to go through them. but if i'm correct, in a matter of hours, not after we subpoenaed, but after we showed interest, your agency had taken all of lois lerner's, all of holly, all of william wilkins, all of jonathan davis former chief of staff, all of the white -- or maybe or maybe not all of them pertaining to the white house but the first four, take a matter of minutes to do. so my question is, our subpoena, which is not extensive for those four, particularly asked for information -- asked for all the e-mails that somebody who has in the e-mails we've seen, both government and nongovernment e-mails in some cases,abilitied overtly political in her speeches and her activities, including what mr. jordan quoted. we asked for all of her e-mails.
do you have any privilege or any reason that you can't and shouldn't have delivered that months ago? >> you seem to have more information about this than i do. we have 90,000 employees and my understanding of the process is that to go through all of those e-mails, which are millions of e-mails to make sure we have not only the outgoing e-mails but the incoming e-mails is not a matter of a few minutes or a few hours. but in any event we have provided for all of those -- or in the process of providing all of the information and all of the e-mails related to the determinations process, and we have -- >> commissioner that's not -- that is not the subpoena. and i want to be very clear. we issued you lawful subpoenas because you didn't cooperate based on letters. our subpoena says all of lois lerner's e-mails. is it your position today that you intend to give us those responsive to some key search word or you intend to give us all of lois lerner's e-mails? all of holly paz's e-mails, all of william wilkins' e-mails, all
of jonathan davis' e-mails? >> we are working through the process. we have never said we would not provide those. we are anxious, as i have said -- >> will you provide all of the e-mails for those four individuals? >> we will provide you -- we are actually trying to in an orderly way conclude the investigation on the determination process which is what the i.g. report reported to. we've had over 250 people at various times working on this investigation. we are producing e-mails. you will get e-mail copies today, redacted, and you will continue to get them. our hope is that you could concentrate on the determination process, gao is already at the congressional request doing a review studying a review on the examination process. as i've said in my letters to you -- >> commissioner, commissioner, you said something and i want to focus on that. you said your hope is that we would focus on the determination process. >> i can't tell you what to focus on -- >> thank you. we are focusing on those individuals. we have asked for all of their
e-mails in a legal subpoena. my question to you, today, will you commit here today to provide all of the e-mails? not all the e-mails you believe are responsive, not all the e-mails you choose to give, not all the e-mails that are other than embarrassing, all of the e-mails? >> mr. chairman, i -- we are prepared to continue to work with your staff. as you can understand, when you say all of the e-mails, you're going to get hundreds of thousands of pages of irrelevant documents -- >> no i'm sorry. lois lerner is an individual, we're asking for all of her e-mails. >> they're all -- >> she obviously had a limited amount of e-mails. quite frankly, we asked for all the e-mails. we believe that the e-mails, for example, where she talked about the outcome of the senate races, maintaining democratic control because of indiana and other states, the outcome of the
maryland pro-gay initiative, all of those are responsive to who she was and why she did what she did. therefore, we have asked for, in the case of these individuals, all of their e-mails. holly paz, for example, said she didn't know what citizens united was. well, lois lerner made it clear that she was trying to find a way to enforce around citizens united at the irs. and we've already seen the documents for that. will you today commit to deliver all of the e-mails, not all that you think are responsive, all that the four squares that any lawyer can read of the subpoena says we're asking for. which is all the e-mails for lois lerner, all the emmaims for holly paz, all the emails for william davis and all the e-mails -- wilkins i mean and jonathan davis. now these are all of the ins and outs from their mailboxes, it's not difficult, you already have pulled them, there's no question
at all, it's a question of will you deliver them. >> mr. chairman, we're happy to continue to work with you, and we will advise you, i'm not aware that we have pulled them all. but to the extent we have, they all have to be redacted and we will work with you and advise you as to what the volume is. the reason the search terms were selected, they were selected by committee staff here and in the other investigation so that -- >> no, no, your people -- my time is expired. you previously selected search terms, asked to give priorities. that's all fine. the subpoena that was personally delivered to you, which we expect you to comply with, or potentially be held in contempt, those e-mails were very specific based on individuals who had become specific focus on which why they did what they did, and what they have said, whether it's true or not, is critical to this committee's discovery of intent. will you commit to deliver all of those e-mails, redacted only
for 6103? >> yes, i'm -- as you say, we've never said we wouldn't produce those emmaims. the search terms just to clear the record were not collected by the irs, they were selected in cooperation with various congressional investigations on the house and senate side to try to limit the volume of material you're going to get. we will be happy to provide you volumes of material -- >> my time is expired. but let me make it clear in closing it does not take any search terms to respond to all the e-mails of lois lerner. >> you're going to get a lot of e-mails, and as noted earlier, you may want to have this investigation go on forever. we have provided you all of the e-mails relevant to the i.g. report. we are providing you lois lerner's e-mails with regard to issues that you've raised about the examination process about the appeals process, and about the regulatory process. >> i appreciate that. gentleman from -- okay.
>> i think the chairman has asked some very good questions and i want to give you an opportunity to respond. what is -- so when you all are going through these e-mails, you just -- the last part of what you said is very significant. you said that you are -- you said something about they have to be relevant? i mean where are you getting all of that from? you said -- do you remember what you just said? the last part of that. sounded like there were certain things that were used, terms that were used, to decide what you are -- you think is responsive to the subpoena. now can you explain that to us? >> yes. >> in other words, if she had a personal e-mail, and she was talking about her shopping or something, i'm just, whatever, i mean are you all separating -- is that part of the process? i don't -- >> part of the process. >> you said something about
relevance explain that. >> part of the relevance when this started because there are literally millions of e-mails, was to take a look at an agreement with the staffs of the investigating committees, take a look at 83 ultimate -- originally a smaller number, the irs added to the custodians as it were, the people sending and receiving e-mails, there are 83 of those that we agreed to look at. the terms, in terms of what would be relevant were determined by congressional committees, as well as the irs, to try to limit the volume. limiting the volume you still have 700,000 pages of relevant documents. to the extent that somebody wants to look at hundreds of thousands more pages of what the search terms define by the congress would be determined irrelevant, at some point we're happy to provide those. we will provide those in the orderly course. but i will tell you, that our experience is it's going to be an overwhelming volume of materials that will take us some significant time to redact taxpayer information, a significant part of which will have nothing to do with this
inve investigation. but if that's the way the committee wants to go, we will go that way. but the other committees, and staff of this committee in the earlier determinations, decided that that would be a fruitless task of overwhelming investigators, not us, nover whelming the investigators with thousands of pages of irrelevant documents. therefore they suggested with us, and selected with us search terms of what would be relevant. tea party, examinations, whatever else they picked, there are a whole series of those terms designed to limit the volume of materials. we still have provided a lot of duplicative and probably irrelevant materials within those search terms but we have not determined anything within those search terms. we've said if those are the terms that will help you winnow it down we're happy to work with you. but if the committee wants to get simply large volumes of personal e-mails from a lot of different people, we will go through, again, making sure that we redact those appropriately, as i say we've provided unredacted copies of all of this in terms of the relevance
determined by the committees to the other committees, and we provided all of the redacted information available now and we're continuing to redact it. it cannot be done overnight. >> thank you very much. i want to go to the recommendations of the inspector general. because this is oversight government reform. i think the committee ought to take some credit for what you have said that there were nine recommendations and apparently you have all been able to address all nine of them. we don't hear that very often in this committee. so the inspector general's report was commissioned in may of last year. made nine recommendations i have a chart here that lists each one of these nine recommendations from the inspector general. the title of the chart is, exempt organizations, recommended actions, february 2014. mr. chairman i ask you this chart from the irs into the
record? >> without objection so ordered. >> commissioner in addition to listing each of the nine recommendations this chart describes in detail the status of each recommendation it describes the work that has been taking place over the last ten months, as well as specific reforms that were implemented. is that correct? are you familiar with the chart? >> yes. >> if i'm reading this chart directly it appears all nine of the inspector general's recommendations have been fulfilled. is that right? >> that's correct. >> let's look more closely at the status of these recommendations. the inspector general first several recommendations began on page 10 of his report. the proposed -- they proposed that the irs change its procedures for how screeners in cincinnati classify applications. all of these are now marked as
completed. can you explain what new guidance theers has provided to screeners in cincinnati about how they should classify and process these applications in an appropriate way? >> the a tear yeah for exemption under c-4 are complicated because it's a quote facts and circumstance determination. the guidance in the new training is provided more guidance to those reviewing as to what's appropriate political advocacy, and what is direct political campaign intervention. it's a campaign intervention that if you -- it becomes your primary activity you, in fact, are not eligible to be a 501(c)(4). there are obviously complicated terms. we've provided better guidance and improved and new supervags or any determination that is going to be delayed. we also have provided clear lines of authority so if anyone needs advice or additional assistance, they can get that automatically, and easily.
>> often page 17 of the inspector general report you list another recommendation and i quote, provide oversight to ensure that potential political cases, some of which have been in process for three years, are approved or denied expeditiously. in response the irs chart says that this, and i quote, as of february 21st, 2014, 112 cases in the original backlog, 85%, have been closed. commissioner, this is good news. and i understand from your testimony today that this number has gone even higher to 87%. can you please explain how this expedited review process works? i think i have one minute left. >> interim commissioner danny wuerffel established a process for expedited review and any applicant who would simply certify that they were not going to spend more than 40% of their time on political activity could be approved immediately. and that streamlined process continues for new apply can'ts.
45 of the pending applicants filed that paper and were immediately reviewed and approved. of those that are still pending, they have decided not to, in fact, sign the affidavit that they would not spend more than 40% of their time on political activity. >> my final question i understand the irs has now completed all of the inspector general's recommendations. going forward what additional plans do you have to ensure that these management problems have been fully addressed? >> we have agreed with the inspector general that before any election we will conduct additional training sessions and try to sensitize all of the people reviewing applications, to make sure that we handle them appropriately no matter what the political background of any of the organizations, and this would apply to people at one end of the political spectrum or the other. that will be done before every election as we go forward.
>> thank you before i call another member i want to make it clear staff has informed me for the record that early on with the irs, they did mutually agree to search terms. that was before the subpoenas were issued. there was never an assurance that those search terms were being used and to this day we don't know if those search terms were actually used, so one of the challenges is that that was abandoned in favor of subpoenas, because of what they believed to be noncompliance a number of months in. but there was an initial attempt to work cooperatively, but as i said, there was a question of whether or not those search terms ever actually got used. >> so thank you. we now go to the gentleman from florida, mr. mica. >> well, thank you mr. chairman.
we've had an opportunity to interact in the past, and always appreciate your candor. the very heart of this matter is a basic fact that irs appears to have been used prior to the election, the presidential election and a concerted effort to close down or keep at bay conservative organizations by targeting. you're aware of that, sir? >> i'm aware of what's noted earlier that the inspector general found inappropriate criteria were used to select organizations for further review. >> well, he did not refer to it as targeting. >> but you heard -- one of the principle irs officials who was involved was lois lerner, who came to the chair where you're sitting now, and took the fifth amendment. she's at the heart of most of this activity.
it was pointed out by mr. jordan that she concocted -- it was almost a hollywood production before the inspector general may 14th came out with his report to blame the people in cincinnati some rogue irs employees who gathered around the water cooler, and concocted a scheme to, again, target -- and i think she laid that out. is that not correct? >> that's -- >> i mean historically you know that as a fact. she appeared before the american bar association, before the report came out, and made those statements. correct? >> she did make those statements -- >> okay. >> i wouldn't -- because she took the fifth, as i said in a letter to the chairman -- >> but, again, this committee, and this -- it's nice to be here for awhile, because you see how
people try to -- to throw people under the bus. whether it's the chairman, you go back to mr. cummings said, here's the case is closed. we started our investigation and june 9th, in may, we started our investigation june 9th. mr. cummings, the ranking member, said here's the case is closed. and then, june 9th -- well, he said, i've seen the case is solved, and so me i'd wrap this case up and move on and be frank. so he tries to throw the case under the bus. he tried to throw the chairman under the bus. he sent a letter just before that, your actions over the past three years do not reflect a responsible bipartisan approach to investigations. now, he has a constitutional and a house responsibility for investigations, and oversight,
you have a responsibility to provide us with information. now we've asked you specifically for about a half a dozen individuals e-mails, including lois lerner, is that correct? >> yes. >> okay. and you said you just testified that probably most of the -- you said you gave 640,000 to the ways and means and 420 to our committee. but you also said here, and we can play the tape back, probably most irrelevant material, right? >> most irrelevant -- >> probably mostly irrelevant material were your words. >> the material we provided -- >> at great expense. the irs and most bureaucracies have no problem spending lots of money doing things that we don't need. we asked you very specifically for the e-mails from six persons. six individuals, a half a dozen individuals and you have not complied, including lois lerner, is that correct? >> my point was is what you're going to get is mostly
irrelevant -- >> and we're not interested. we're interested specifically in lois lerner and others to find out who did what. you're aware of cindy thomas' statements? she was the chief person out in cincinnati, and she said, may 10th, with a copy to lois lerner, we have a copy of that, to lois lerner, with a copy to holly paz, and she said, cincinnati wasn't publicly thrown under the bus. instead it was hit by a convoy of mack trucks. are you aware of her statement as to what took place? >> i am. i'm aware of the fact that you already have a significant number of lois lerner e-mails, obviously, and we've been trying -- >> but we don't have what we want. and again it's a game of you providing us with probably huge amounts of irrelevant material -- >> that's what you're going to get. >> that i'm not interested in personally. you could give us a billion
documents, that's not what we asked. we asked specifically -- >> right. and what you're going to get -- >> gentleman's time has expired but you can answer. >> can i answer a question? >> of course. that's what i said, the gentleman's time has expired but you may answer. >> first of all, your earlier comment about your staff being concerned about whether the search terms were being followed is the first time i have heard that. we have followed those search terms. no other committee, none of the other five investigations going on have raised any question about whether we've, in fact, followed on those search terms. so if your staff has that concern, i would appreciate it if they would let us know, because none of the other five commission investigations, and none of the other five staffs have raised that issue. and as far as i know we have abided by those search terms and provided everything that the committee's requested pursuant to those search terms and with regard to the determination process. with regard to lois lerner as i said in my letter to you, because you have not been able to cross-examine her, because she is not an irs employee the first priority we have, we've
already been providing you the e-mails, in fact her staff cited a number of them you had, her e-mails with regard to the determination process, you've been able to cross-examine over 30 witnesses about anything you wanted to talk to them about, but because you could not talk to lois we are providing you, and they have to be redacted, we are going to provide you lois lerner e-mails with regard to not only the ones you have about determinations, but lois lerner e-mails with regard to the examination process, the appeals process, and to the extent there are any with regard to the development of the proposed regulations that were issued. those were the issues that have been raised. concerns about what her involvement was, we've committed that we will provide those to you. we've prioritized. we have not said we're not going to provide you the rest of them. we have prioritized trying to complete document redaction so that we would be able to get you the information that we thought would be appropriate for the determination process. as i said in my letter to you, if you now want to actually run an investigation of the other areas, with those employees or others, we're prepared to work with you, as you say, if you
just want all the documents, once redacted no matter what they are we can give those to you but i guarantee you you're going to go under and it's not going to further the investigative process. but if that's the way you would like to do it that will be our next priority. >> mr. chairman a quick unanimous request, i'd like this e-mail from cindy thomas to appear in the record at this point, in the proceedings. and also a copy of "the washington post" june 9th cases closed article to appear in the record. >> without objection so ordered. mr. chairman? >> yes. >> unanimous request. just one minute. you just said something mr. chairman that i want to make sure it's clear. it sounds like -- it sounds like mr. chairman the impression of what's being subpoenaed using certain lists, and we have an opinion, and they don't coincide is that accurate? >> i think what's happened is
the subpoena that was delivered to me in february said it wanted all the e-mails for a set of people. what we have been trying to do is all of those people -- you have e-mails from those people with regard to the determination process pursuant to the search terms that we've been working with. this subpoena now says we'd like them all for anything. we have now finally completed, although we're still working on the redaction, all of the production of documents regarding the determination process, which is what the i.g. report focused on. we have said that that's the first priority we've had. we have never said we're not going to provide you the rest of the documents, and in fact, trying to figure out the most efficient way to do it, we have said we will provide you lois lerner e-mails, on everything with regard to examinations appeals and the regulatory process, as it goes forward. and i've said, when we're done with all of that, if you want to actually get e-mails, and you want them all, we'll give them all to you. but if you want to actually take a more focused investigation on the regulatory process or
otherwise, we're happy to work with you to figure out how that goes. but in light of this chairman's view, as soon as we can finish the rest of these redactions and go forward, we'll provide you volumes of e-mails which are many of them going to be irrelevant, which is what i said at congressman mica's comment. not that the material you have are irrelevant. the ones you're likely to get in volume are irrelevant. and if you want it without any selective process we'll redact them. there's going to be thousands of pages, and we're happy to provide them to you. but it's not going to expedite the conclusion of this investigation, and as i say, a significant part of it's going to be irrelevant. >> thank you. >> for the gentleman, because it's a good question, one of the reasons that we requested all is that back when we were in the minority we began digitally evaluate i evaluating this kind of information. and when we have all and the ones that the commissioner is talking about, if they were irrelevant and quite frankly there's no redaction, if they
don't have 6103 there's no redaction appropriate, if that's the case, we do search terms, and we look at only what we need to look at. but we can constantly search and re-search to try to get to the bottom of it. as you can imagine, we would not have found lois lerner talking to her daughter about overtly partisan political activity if we had only looked for determination. it wasn't relative to determination. but it was relative to possible motivation. the ideas, you know, wasn't aware of the speech at duke university in which it was clear that lois lerner was saying in pretty plain terms that she was going to act on what the s.e.c. couldn't act on. so this is part of the investigation, it's the reason we've asked for all, and quite frankly it takes a lot less time to just go through and view these things and say oh, that's got no 6103 and you just start
sending it. and that's what we had hoped for when we issued the subpoenas for all, because these are people, as you know, who have said things before a committee or failed to say things in some cases, in which they become what law enforcement might call a person of interest, and lois lerner, holly paz, and so on, and the other individuals, are people of interest because of their possible role. >> so in other words any e-mail with anybody talking to their daughter, if there's any relevance whatsoever, if they say i just don't like democrats, i mean, and say that was in any way you could connect that with an investigation, and they're talking to their daughter -- >> i appreciate that. >> but i just want to make sure the context. these are government e-mails from a government account, back in and out. this is the use of irs assets to communicate. we would presume that the
majority of it is not shopping online. as a matter of fact, in the case of lois lerner, she did her shopping online in a hotmail account. which she also did 6103 material on. so, you know, in the normal case, this would not be something you'd look through, but we and the department of justice, if they're actually doing the investigation they claim to, we have an obligation to look and figure out whether we can opt out these communications which in this case were always the product of the government, always available, and as you know, it is a given that communication on government computers is, in fact, open to government review. i just wanted to make sure the public understands that. thank you, mr. connolly. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i would say to the ranking member, sounds like his understanding is correct. and i would hope we'd do the same with, oh, i don't know, the