Tag Archives: Congress

Benghazi panel summons Clinton

Benghazi panel summons Clinton

BY SUSAN FERRECHIO

Trey Gowdy, R-SC Representative
Trey Gowdy, R-SC Representative

A House panel Tuesday formally requested Hillary Clinton to testify about the private server and email account she used while serving as secretary of state.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi, sent a request to Clinton’s personal attorney, David E. Kendall, requesting that Clinton appear before the committee no later than May 1 for a transcribed interview about the server and email.

RELATED: The long, complicated story of Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi subpoena

The request comes after Kendall told Gowdy that the server had been wiped clean and that it would be impossible to recover the 30,000 emails Clinton deleted last year.

Gowdy, in his request to Kendall, also asked Clinton to “reconsider” her refusal to turn over the server to a neutral third party, which he called “highly unusual, if not unprecedented.”

RELATED: Documents show Hillary Clinton used iPad, BlackBerry

Clinton said she only deleted personal emails and turned over every work-related message to the State Department, which is reviewing the data to filter out classified information.

“Because of the Secretary’s unique arrangement with herself as it relates to public records during and after her tenure as Secretary of State.” Gowdy wrote, “this Committee is left with no alternative but to request Secretary Clinton appear before this Committee for a transcribed interview to better understand decisions the Secretary made relevant to the creation, maintenance, retention, and ultimately deletion of public records.”

RELATED: Hillary Clinton withheld information from Congress. Now what?

In Tuesday’s letter, Gowdy warned that Clinton’s decision not to turn over the server, “the House of Representatives as a whole will need to consider its next steps.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings, of Maryland, who serves as the top Democrat on the Benghazi panel, said in a statement to the Washington Examiner that Gowdy’s depiction of Clinton is inaccurate because Clinton has always been willing to talk to the panel under oath.

“Secretary Clinton agreed to testify months ago — in public and under oath — so the Select Committee’s claim that it has no choice but to subject her to a private staff interview is inaccurate,” Cummings said. “Rather than drag out this political charade into 2016 and selectively leak portions of a closed-door interview, the Committee should schedule the public hearing, make her records public and re-focus its efforts on the attacks in Benghazi.”

The House has the power to subpoena the server, but neither Gowdy nor House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will say whether it will use that authority. Boehner has demanded Clinton turn over the server.

RELATED: Clinton’s personal server wiped clean

Gowdy said he wants a neutral party to examine the deleted emails to find out of there is any information related to the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The House panel wants to examine the State Department’s role before, during and after the attack.

Gowdy noted in the letter that even though Clinton said she deleted the emails, it is “technically possible,” to retrieve them.

Republicans warn world that Obama U.N. plan could be undone

Republicans warn world that Obama U.N. plan could be undone

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) talks to the media after a weekly Senate caucus luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington March 17, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration’s plan for U.N. climate change talks encountered swift opposition after its release Tuesday, with Republican leaders warning other countries to “proceed with caution” in negotiations with Washington because any deal could be later undone.

The White House is seeking to enshrine its pledge in a global climate agreement to be negotiated Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 in Paris. It calls for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by close to 28 percent from 2005 levels within a decade, using a host of existing laws and executive actions targeting power plants, vehicles, oil and gas production and buildings.

But Republican critics say the administration lacks the political and legal backing to commit the United States to an international agreement.

“Considering that two-thirds of the U.S. federal government hasn’t even signed off on the Clean Power Plan and 13 states have already pledged to fight it, our international partners should proceed with caution before entering into a binding, unattainable deal,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

U.S. officials stressed that their Intended Nationally Determined Contribution, U.N. lingo for its official submission, stands on sound legal footing, with the measures drawing authority from legislation such as the Clean Air Act and the Energy Independence and Security Act.

Todd Stern, the lead U.S. climate change negotiator, said he frequently tells foreign counterparts that “undoing the kind of regulation we are putting in place is very tough to do.”

But elements of the administration’s climate policy already face legal challenges. On April 16, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. will hear arguments from 13 states opposed to as-yet-unfinalized regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that target emissions in existing power plants.

And McConnell’s warnings echoed the tone of a March 9 “open letter” from 47 Republican senators to Iran, in which they warned a Republican president would not be bound to honor a nuclear agreement struck by Democrat Obama without congressional approval, calling it a “mere executive agreement.”

Some observers said that resistance to the administration’s climate policies leaves foreign governments questioning whether Obama’s commitments can last.

“By strenuously invoking EPA regulations, the Administration is trying to convince skeptical international audiences that the U.S. can actually deliver on its new climate goals, despite Republican resistance,” said Paul Bledsoe, a former Clinton White House official who is now with the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

“But major capitals are likely to remain nervous.”

The administration is clearly sensitive to the threat. Power plants are the biggest domestic source of greenhouse gas emissions, and the EPA is seeking to use its power to slash carbon levels from plants to 30 percent of their 2005 levels by 2020.

On Monday, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the agency had designed power plant rules under the authority of the Clean Air Act – and insisted that they can withstand Supreme Court scrutiny.

“We don’t need a plan B if we are solid on our plan A,” she said.

But Jeff Holmstead, a lawyer representing utilities industries for Bracewell & Giuliani and former assistant administrator of the EPA under George W Bush, says even if the courts uphold the EPA proposal on power plants, a future Republican administration can reverse it.

“There are some EPA rules that are very difficult for a new administration to change but this is not one of those rules,” Holmstead said. He calculates that at least five high court justices are wary of the EPA’s regulatory leeway.

Environmental groups, on the other hand, were more confident that Obama’s measures cannot be reversed by the courts or politics.

“The Clean Air Act has proven to be quite durable,” said David Waskow, director of international initiatives for the World Resources Institute. “While elements may be slowed or modified by legal challenges, they are rarely overturned.”

(Reporting By Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Bruce Wallace and Grant McCool)

Amazon Slams FAA Drone Policy, Says Delays Hurt US UAV Industry

Amazon Slams FAA Drone Policy, Says Delays Hurt US UAV Industry

By 

Drone flight
An Amazon representative said this week that by the time the FAA approved the company’s drone test, the prototype was outdated.

Amazon has accused the federal government of being too slow to create an effective commercial drone testing policy. While the Federal Aviation Administration has given Amazon permission to test its delivery drone program, the e-commerce giant warned that the U.S. is allowing other nations to get a head start on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

It was exactly the FAA’s approval, though, that seemed to raise Amazon’s ire. Paul Misener, the company’s vice president for global public policy, told a Senate subcommittee that the prototype went out of date during the six months the company waited for permission.

“We don’t test it anymore. We’ve moved on to more advanced designs that we already are testing abroad,” Misener said in written testimony issued to the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security. “Nowhere outside of the United States have we been required to wait more than one or two months to begin testing.”

The FAA has proposed a set of rules that would permit a variety of commercial drone flights. Yet Amazon’s intention to launch a fleet of package delivery drones was all but shot down by the stipulations that pilots keep drones within their line of sight and don’t fly their craft higher than 500 feet.

Misener didn’t go so far as to ask Congress to create legislation to trump the FAA rules, but U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., plans to introduce a bill, the Commercial UAV Modernization Act, that could give businesses more leeway until the FAA finalizes its drone rules, Forbes reported. Initial reports suggest the bill would authorize pilots who have passed a “knowledge test” to fly drones during daylight and under the FAA’s altitude limit.

Government No. 1 problem in the country, Americans say

Government No. 1 problem in the country, Americans say

By David Sherfinski – The Washington Times

Steve Cohen TN Representative Tennessee Congress

Government has been named the most important problem facing the country for four straight months and has widened its lead over the second-ranking issue of the economy compared to last month, a Gallup poll said.

Eighteen percent of Americans named dissatisfaction with government the most important problem facing the country, followed by the economy at 11 percent and jobs at 10 percent.

In February, government was still tops at 17 percent, but was followed closely by the economy at 16 percent, then healthcare at 10 percent.

Health care was tied for fourth with immigration/illegal aliens at 7 percent in the latest survey.

“While dissatisfaction with government is by no means a new issue to the American people, it has not in recent months been as clearly the leading problem as it is now, given that fewer Americans mention the economy,”  Gallup’s Justin McCarthy wrote.

The results are based on a poll of 1,025 adults conducted March 5-8. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Hillary Clinton could face criminal charges

Hillary Clinton could face criminal charges

By Jesse Byrnes

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Sunday suggested that Hillary Clinton could face criminal charges if she knowingly withholds emails from congressional investigators.

Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Issa noted that “voluntary cooperation does not guarantee that it’s a crime not to deliver all” requested emails.

“A subpoena, which Trey Gowdy issued, is so that in fact it will be a crime if she knowingly withholds documents pursuant to subpoena,” Issa said.

The former House Oversight Committee chairman issued three subpoenas related to the 2012 Benghazi attacks, he said, acknowledging the House Select Committee on Benghazi last week subpoenaed all of Clinton’s emails during her tenure as secretary of State.

Clinton last week called on the State Department to release the 55,000 pages of her emails that she self-selected and turned over. State has turned over about 900 pages to the committee.

Issa argued that Clinton “wasn’t forthcoming two and a half years ago.”

“She, in fact, hid the very existence of this until she was caught,” Issa said.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who sits on the House Benghazi committee, pushed back on CNN.

“They issued a subpoena for records we already have,” Schiff said. “We’ve read them. There’s nothing in them.”

“What is the law at the time? The law at the time was that she could use her personal email as long as she preserved it,” Schiff said, arguing “she clearly did preserve her emails.”

“In my view, this was not provided in response to the The New York Times article or anything else. This was provided last year when a request went out to the state department and all former secretaries,” Schiff said.

“She followed the law in place at the time, and I think that’s, I think, the relevant point.”

Questions, Issues mount over Hillary private e-mails

Questions, Issues mount over Hillary private e-mails

House panel issues subpoenas. Hillary-Gate #2?

By Rosalind S. Helderman, Carol D. Leonnig and Anne Gearan

hillary clinton email

A congressional committee issued subpoenas Wednesday seeking information about Hillary Rodham Clinton’s use of a private e-mail account for official business while she was secretary of state, setting up a potential legal clash with the presumptive Democratic front-runner for president.

The move followed the revelation that Clinton had installed a private server at her New York home that allowed her, and not the State Department, to store her e-mail correspondence and later decide which ones to turn over as public records.

The subpoenas, sent by the special House committee probing the fatal 2012 terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, reflected the angry response more broadly from Republican lawmakers and conservative watchdogs who said Clinton’s private e-mail system allowed her to evade scrutiny from investigations and legal proceedings.

Late Wednesday, Clinton responded to the issue for the first time tweeting, “I want the public to see my e-mail. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible.”]

In a tense exchange with reporters Wednesday, State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf denied anything inappropriate occurred after revelations that former secretary of state Hillary Clinton used a private e-mail account for work. (C-Span)

Marie Harf, deputy state department spokeswoman, said the e-mails provided by Clinton will be reviewed for public release “using a normal process” that guides such releases. “We will undertake this review as quickly as possible,” she said. “Given the sheer volume of the document set, this review will take some time to complete.”

Meanwhile, government transparency advocates expressed concern over the level of control Clinton had asserted over her records. Security experts wondered if hackers could exploit weaknesses in the Clinton server to gain access to sensitive information.

And, on the political front, some Democrats worried about whether the e-mail issue would damage Clinton’s strength as a presidential candidate.

“There’s always another shoe to drop with Hillary,” said Dick Harpootlian, a former Democratic Party chairman in South Carolina who has said he hopes Vice President Biden runs. “Do we nominate her not knowing what’s in those e-mails?”

The subpoenas issued Wednesday seek all Clinton e-mails related to Libya during her time as secretary of state — an attempt to collect new e-mails sent from the clintonemail.com domain, the private account Clinton established when she took office in 2009.

Also Wednesday, the president of Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, said the organization is considering filing legal petitions to reopen as many as nine cases in which the group unsuccessfully sought public records from the State Department. The cases were either dismissed, closed or settled after the administration claimed it found no records involving Clinton related to the group’s requests.

Why Clinton’s private e-mail address is bad news(1:21)

Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail address that she used while secretary of state reinforces everything people don’t like about her, argues The Post’s Chris Cillizza, and is very dangerous to her presidential ambitions. (The Washington Post)

And other lawmakers who have tried to investigate Clinton’s tenure at State said they were outraged and felt misled, and were concerned many of the public records they had requested had not been provided because of the use of private e-mail.

State Department officials have confirmed that Clinton exclusively used a personal account, instead of a government e-mail address, during her time in office.

Instead of using State Department servers to send and receive those e-mails, she used a server housed at her private home in Chappaqua, N.Y., a Clinton ally familiar with her e-mail practices confirmed Wednesday. The server’s existence was first reported by the Associated Press.

The Clinton ally said the server and e-mail addresses were established after the conclusion of Clinton’s unsuccessful bid for president in 2008, as she was transitioning away from using an account held by her defunct campaign.

Neither State Department officials nor Clinton aides would provide information about which officials had signed off on the arrangement, whether a legal analysis was performed and whether any agency officials ever raised questions about Clinton’s e-mail system.

Beyond her late night tweet, Clinton herself has not addressed the e-mail issue, and her spokesman has not expanded on a brief statement issued Monday, in which he said Clinton had complied with both the letter and spirit of the law. The spokesman, Nick Merrill, also said that other secretaries of state have used private e-mail accounts.

State Department officials said Clinton turned over 55,000 pages of e-mail records last year after officials requested that former secretaries turn over public documents in their possession.

But, agency officials said, the decision over which e-mails would be deemed public record fell to Clinton and her private advisers — not to government officials or archivists.
State Department spokesman Harf told reporters Wednesday that she could not answer “when it was set up, and all that.” She referred questions about the system’s security to Clinton’s personal office.

Harf said there was no indication that Clinton had used the account for classified information, but she acknowledged that she was relying on information conveyed by Clinton and her aides.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest also defended Clinton, saying he had seen no evidence to suggest Clinton’s team had failed to turn over everything in its possession. But Earnest also took pains to say that he was relying on the Clinton team for his information.

“I also want to just be crystal clear about the fact that this is a responsibility that they assumed,” he said.

Federal regulations in place while Clinton was in office required that e-mails sent on non-government accounts be preserved in the “appropriate agency record-keeping system.” Harf said the regulation contained no “time requirement” to turn over records, meaning Clinton’s response — more than a year after she left office — complied.

But government transparency advocates said the use of a private e-mail account and a private server meant that for years, Clinton’s e-mails were off-limits to public records requests filed with the State Department.

The long delay in turning records over to the State Department also places enormous power in the hands of her closest aides to decide which of her e-mails should be made public and which should be shielded from view.

“There’s no legitimate way to claim that there wasn’t a requirement, certainly to keep with the spirit of the law, to make real-time copies available to the agency,” said David Sobel, senior counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

In Congress, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said new subpoenas were a good step because lawmakers do not have confidence Clinton has turned over all of her relevant e-mails to the State Department.

Agency officials have said they have submitted 300 of Clinton’s e-mails to the committee investigating the Benghazi attack.

“The prime reason to set up an account like this is to skirt the law, avoid disclosure,” Chaffetz said. “The question isn’t the number of e-mails she has turned over, it’s the percentage. I want to know who decided what we could see.”

Likewise, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said he is concerned that the State Department did not turn over all e-mails by Clinton aide Huma Abedin that he requested in 2013 as part of an effort to see whether Abedin was simultaneously working for the government and an outside consulting firm.

Abedin, like Clinton, sometimes used a private clintonemail.com account.

“The trend of using private e-mail for public business is detrimental to good government,” Grassley said. “The public’s business ought to be public with few exceptions.”

A number of Democrats insisted Wednesday that the e-mail issue would fade quickly in voter’s minds.

“As somebody who desperately wants her to run and wants her to win, on a scale of 1 to 10 this is a negative 12,” said Paul Begala, a longtime Clinton family friend and Democratic strategist. No real voter, Begala said, is going to base a decision on whether “she had a non-archival-compliant
e-mail server.”

Alice Crites, Tom Hamburger, Steven Rich, Philip Rucker and Katie Zezima contributed to this report.

Israel’s Prime Minister Destroys Iran and Obama with One Speech

Israel’s Prime Minister Destroys Iran and Obama with One Speech

Israel Benjamin netanyahu Prime Minister

Americans and the world just got a lesson in chutzpah. That’s the Jewish word for balls, bravado, courage, audacity, cajones. No one else in the world could have pulled off what Bibi just did. Talk about a masterful speech.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu walked into a joint session of the U.S. Congress like he owned it. Like he was the president of the United States. He received 29 standing ovations. He then held court for almost an hour like he was the most powerful man in the world. Like he held the key to saving the world. And just maybe…he does.

Bibi walked onto the biggest stage in America and embarrassed President Barack Obama. He schooled him. He took him to the woodshed. And here’s the masterful part – he killed him with kindness! Bibi pulled off a speech ripping America’s president to shreds, in front of the political leadership of America…in front of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi…in front of the American people…and he did it like only a master of communication, chutzpah and salesmanship could – by first praising him. By thanking Obama. By showering him with compliments.

Then he proceeded to strip him naked and pummel him into submission.

You can’t make deals with tyrants, terrorists, thieves and murderers whose word cannot be trusted.

When it was over, I guarantee you that a majority of the American people…at least a majority who watched the speech…would rather have Bibi as president than Obama. Certainly a majority would sleep sounder at night, would feel safer about the future of their children with Bibi as president than Obama.

What was the main takeaway of the speech?

That you can’t reward bad behavior. That you must punish bad behavior. That you can’t agree to deals with tyrants, terrorists, liars, thieves and murderers whose word cannot be trusted. That no deal is in fact better than a bad deal.

That the only deal worth doing punishes Iran and takes away their nuclear capabilities until they change their behavior…until they stop supporting and funding terrorism…until they stop vowing to annihilate their neighbor Israel and kill all the Jewish people…until they check their aggressive support of militant, radical Islam all over the world. That to allow any nuclear capability for a militant Muslim nation is suicide for the entire world.

Bibi understands three things Obama clearly doesn’t (or does, and doesn’t care because he’s a Muslim sympathizer):

The art of negotiating. Bibi compared negotiating with Iran to negotiating at a Persian bazaar. Hilarious, and so true.

“If they threaten to walk away, let them.” Bibi said. “Because they’ll be back.”

It takes an Israeli to understand the human nature of Persians. That threat of walking away is just part of a negotiation. Bibi understands that. I understand that. Can Obama be that stupid? Bibi sure made him seem that stupid.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens as President Barack Obama speaks during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens as President Barack Obama speaks during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

But I know Bibi knows what I know. He just can’t say it in public. Obama is not stupid. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s not on Israel’s side. So Bibi had to play a masterful game of chess with Obama. So he painted him as naïve and stupid. He embarrassed him in front of the world. He made it clear the deal Obama has negotiated is Neville Chamberlain all over again. It’s a repeat of the worst deal ever agreed to – Chamberlain’s deal with Hitler.

Secondly, Bibi made it clear that Iran is not a normal country. It shouldn’t be treated like a normal country. It is a militant Islamic country. It is a rogue terrorist state no different than Islamic State. Iran is the enemy of Islamic State, so Bibi had to make a very interesting point.

Iran and Islamic State are the same people. They want the same thing. They say it. They tweet it. Iran wrote it in their constitution. They are dedicated to killing, conquering, converting and enslavng the entire region, then the world. Iran is only fighting Islamic State to determine who gets to do it in the name of Allah.

Bibi then drove the nail home, “the enemy of your enemy…is your enemy.” Masterful.

Thirdly, Bibi made a simple clear point that the American people can understand. Forget intellectual arguments. Forget the fancy words of lawyers and Ivy Leaguers like Obama, meant to obscure, confuse, distract and deceive the people.

Bibi spoke from the heart. Bibi painted a picture of militant radical Muslims like Islamic State and how they act – they commit atrocities…they cut off heads…they torture…they throw gays off buildings…they parade prisoners in cages…they set people on fire…they rape and kill women and children…even babies are cut in half and mutilated at the hands of militant radical Muslims.

And Obama wants to allow them to possess NUCLEAR WEAPONS? And he thinks that’s okay? He thinks they’ll change? He thinks they’ll stop being angry and aggressive with a nuclear weapon now in their hands? That image ends the debate.

Bibi’s point was clear, somber and frightening: No militant Islamic state can ever be allowed to possess nuclear weapons…or they will certainly use them. No one in the world will be ever sleep soundly again. No one’s children will ever be safe again. People that cut off heads…stone woman for having sex…throw acid in a little girl’s face for wanting to go to school…set fire to a prisoner in a cage…people like that will use a nuclear weapon.

Bibi made it clear Obama’s deal with Iran allows them to possess nuclear weapons. It’s only a matter of when. That cannot be allowed to pass.

I think I heard Obama and Valerie Jarrett screaming at the TV in the White House.

Bibi embarrassed them. Thrashed them. Emasculated them. The emperor has no clothes. By the way, not only is it clear Obama does not like Israel…that Obama is a Muslim sympathizer…that Obama is trying to weaken Israel and put her people in danger…but the ruler of Obama’s White House is Valerie Jarrett. Where was Valerie born? Iran.

Obama’s actions and negotiations are no mistake…fluke…coincidence…not done out of naivete. Bibi knows that as well as I do. So he had to deconstruct Obama and his Iranian-born svengali in a nice way…in front of the Congress…in Obama’s own house.

Bibi had to kill Obama with kindness. He could not win over the American people by ripping our president in our own home court. So he never once named Obama as the bad guy. He never once blamed Obama for a bad deal, or bad negotiations. He never said out loud “your president is trying to hurt Israel.”

But he didn’t have to. We all know.

Bravo Bibi. You just showed us all what a real leader looks like – someone who stands up to evil, instead of negotiating and compromising in the face of another Hitler. Bibi made his point subtly…as subtly as a jackhammer and blowtorch. Best of all, it was a two-for-one sale: Bibi destroyed both Iran and Obama with one masterful speech.

IRS watchdog reveals Lois Lerner missing emails now subject of criminal probe

IRS watchdog reveals Lois Lerner missing emails now subject of criminal probe

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

By Stephen Dinan – The Washington Times

The IRS’s inspector general confirmed Thursday it is conducting a criminal investigation into how Lois G. Lerner’s emails disappeared, saying it took only two weeks for investigators to find hundreds of tapes the agency’s chief had told Congress were irretrievably destroyed.

Investigators have already scoured 744 backup tapes and gleaned 32,774 unique emails, but just two weeks ago they found an additional 424 tapes that could contain even more Lerner emails, Deputy Inspector General Timothy P. Camus told the House Oversight Committee in a rare late-night hearing meant to look into the status of the investigation.

“There is potential criminal activity,” Mr. Camus said.

He said they have also discovered the hard drives from the IRS’s email servers, but said because the drives are out of synch it’s not clear whether they will be able to recover anything from them.

“To date we have found 32,744 unique emails that were backed up from Lois Lerner’s email box. We are in the process of comparing these emails to what the IRS has already produced to Congress to determine if we did in fact recover any new emails,” Mr. Camus said.

Democrats questioned the independence of Inspector General J. Russell George, who is overseeing the investigation, saying he’s injected politics into his work.

Rep. Gerald Connolly, Virginia Democrat, said Mr. George is refusing to turn documents over to him, prompting a heated reply.

“You’re not entitled to certain documents,” Mr. George said.

“Oh really? We’ll see about that, won’t we,” Mr. Connolly replied, saying that he questioned whether Mr. George could be trusted if he’s refusing to provide documents, yet is in charge of an investigation into whether the IRS stonewalled document requests.

The hearing was the latest chapter in the complex investigation into the IRS’s targeting of tea party groups for special scrutiny.

Several congressional committees are still probing the matter, and both the inspector general and the Justice Department are conducting criminal investigations.

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.

Story Continues →

Alan Nunnelee, Mississippi congressman, dies at 56

Alan Nunnelee, Mississippi congressman, dies at 56

Geoff Pender, Deborah Barfield Berry, Gannett News Service

Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.)
Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.) (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON – Rep. Alan Nunnelee, a Mississippi Republican and part of the historic 2010 GOP wave election that gave the party control of the House, died Friday, the family confirmed. He was 56.

Nunnelee, who was serving his third term, underwent brain surgery last June and had been in and out of hospitals and rehabilitation centers the past year.

Nunnelee’s family in a statement said: “Congressman Alan Nunnelee has gone home to be with Jesus. He was well loved and will be greatly missed.”

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant called Nunnelee, “the best man I have ever known.”

“Alan Nunnelee has been like a brother to me and was one of my dearest friends and companions,” Bryant said. “I will miss him greatly. Deborah and I are praying for Tori and their children.”

He was hospitalized again Dec. 28 in Mississippi and was unable to take the oath of office for the 114th Congress on Jan. 6 with other lawmakers. Nunnelee was sworn in a week later by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills at the North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo.

A former Mississippi state senator, Nunnelee served on the powerful House Appropriations Committee. He was vice chairman of the panel’s Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies.

In 2011, Nunnelee, a fiscal conservative, was one of three GOP freshmen given a coveted seat on the Appropriations Committee.

Nunnelee was “highly respected in the House,” former Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott said recently.

He unseated Democratic Rep. Travis Childers in 2010 to win the House seat.

“I’m deeply saddened by the news of Congressman Nunnelee’s passing,” Childers said. “On behalf of my family, I send our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Tori, and their children. Our love for North Mississippi is something Congressman Nunnelee and I always shared, and I thank him for his service to our state.”

Nunnelee, a member of the conservative Republican Study Committee, represented the mostly rural 1st Congressional District in northern Mississippi. Before that, he served in the state Senate from 1995 to 2011 and was chairman of the Appropriations Committee from 2008 to 2011.