I'll admit that I haven't really been paying much attention to the GOP's scandal du jour, which is the sinister failure of a hard drive belonging to former IRS official Lois Lerner in 2011, a hard drive failure which basically proves that Obama is Nixon and that Lerner is G. Gordon Liddy. And please, don't waste time by pointing out that Republicans today love G. Gordon Liddy, because if you do, you're probably part of the conspiracy.
Anyway, back to the scandal: Apparently Republicans think that the failure of Lerner's drive—and the fact that the IRS has only recently gone into painstaking detail about the circumstances surrounding the failure of her drive—are part of a massive plot that culminated in President Obama stealing the election from Mitt Romney. So, naturally, on Friday morning they convened a hearing to investigate this, and they've put on the stand—er, I mean, at the witness table—newly minted IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
Throughout the hearing, Republicans have treated Koskinen with remarkable contempt, but they've also managed to unwittingly (and dimwittedly) demonstrate the complete absurdity of their outrage. A perfect case in point—the video at the top of this post, an exchange between GOP Rep. Charles Boustany of Louisiana and Koskinen in which Boustany fails to realize that the answers to his questions have just exposed why there never should have been a hearing on this topic in the first place.
It's actually kind of enjoyable for its absurdity, so let me take you through it, starting with this question from Boustany:
BOUSTANY: When was Lois Lerner's hard drive recycled and made irretrievable?Actually, that's a good question. If the IRS decided to recycle her hard drive during the investigation, that would be worth knowing. But also worth knowing is what actually happened:
KOSKINEN: She is was advised in the summer of 2011 that the criminal investigation division had been unable to retrieve emails off her hard drive and it was recycled. I will get you the date when...Follow below the fold for the hilarious conclusion to Boustany's moronic questioning.
Boustany then asked Koskinen to supply the precise date, which he agreed to do, but the general timeframe was was the summer of 2011, two years before Congress launched its investigation. So, not exactly an effort to obstruct the investigation, especially since as soon as Lerner's drive crashed, she took it to CID. (Side note: She took it to them because they had the tech resources to recover her drive data, which she needed. Not because she was being investigated.)
Boustany should have let things stand, but he couldn't help himself.
BOUSTANY: I'm really disturbed that it took this long for the committee to find out this information buried in the letter we received on Friday.At first, it seemed like Boustany was trying to steer the topic away from the fact that this all happened in 2011, long before the House investigation, and toward a second-order coverup—trying to claim that the IRS had covered up their knowledge of Lerner's hard drive crash. But:
KOSKINEN: There are emails last fall, productions, that referenced her hard drive crash, that no one was paying attention to. They were looking at all of the relevant information.As Koskinen then pointed out, it's true that the details of the crash were not known, but the fact that a crash had happened was no secret. But the GOP didn't think anything of it at the time, perhaps because they were distracted by a different coverup narrative, or Benghazi, or something else.
If you're keeping score at home, what this means is that (a) the Lerner drive crash took place before any investigations and (b) the fact that her drive crashed was revealed to the GOP last year, and they didn't think anything of it.
At this point, Boustany really should have stopped digging, but he hadn't reached bottom, because next he said this:
BOUSTANY: Why wasn't this committee notified before a decision was made to completely recycle her hard drive?Uh, perhaps because they didn't have a time travel device, you complete moron? Or, in the more polite words of the IRS Commissioner:
KOSKINEN: Uh, the committee was not notified because that decision would have been made three years ago. It's not a decision—none of this had anything to do with the investigation.Okay, at this point, I'm almost feeling sorry for the poor fool Boustany. But:
BOUSTANY: Well, I would submit it does have to do with the investigation, because we're trying to get necessary information.Yes, sir, you're trying to get the information now. It's 2014. Your hearings started in 2013. This decision was made in 2011. Time travel is not possible. Sir, shut up. For your own sake. But Boustany was having none of it:
BOUSTANY: It disturbs me that this decision was made internally, without any kind of outside consultation, when this committee was vigorously pursuing information regarding this targeting scandal.Seriously, at this point, even Louis Gohmert would have been shaking his head. Somehow, the IRS commissioner managed to restrain laughter, responding instead:
KOSKINEN: I would like to make the record very clear. The decision about that hard drive was made three years ago. There's been no decision made since this investigation started, and certainly since I started, to have anything destroyed.Sure, but that doesn't really answer Boustany's question, which is this: Why hasn't the IRS discovered a time machine, and why hasn't it used it?