WASHINGTON — Appearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in a hearing into alleged targeting of tea party groups, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen claimed that hard copies of thousands of emails that apparently disappeared from Lois Lerner’s hard drive had in fact been “eaten by his dog.”
In a testy exchange, Rep. Trey Gowdy confronted Mr. Koskinen with a picture of the 74-year-old commissioner’s dog, a tiny Chihuahua named Che, and pointed out that such a small animal could not have digested multiple reams of printed A4 pages. Mr. Koskinen then told the committee that now that he thought about it, the dog had not in fact eaten the emails, but had torn them up into such small pieces with his tiny chihuahua claws that they could not possibly have been reassembled, so he had thrown them away.
When pressed by Rep. Paul Ryan, who called his claim “cute, but frankly unbelievable,” Mr. Koskinen sheepishly admitted that he had in fact been in possession of the emails only that morning, but had accidentally spilled coffee over them at breakfast.
Challenged by Rep. Jason Chaffetz as to how one cup of coffee could have ruined so many emails, and asked why he hadn’t mopped up most of the coffee with paper towels and then dried out the emails with a hair dryer, or perhaps laid them on a radiator, Mr. Koskinen confessed that he had just remembered that he had in actual fact left the emails on the bus.
A spokesman for Mr. Koskinen’s office told reporters he had intended to call the DC Metro Transit Authority lost and found office, but the battery on his cellphone was dead. Asked why he couldn’t have used his office phone, the spokesman claimed that actually he had, but he had been given the wrong number, and anyway nobody was picking up the phone. And the line was busy.
Questioned by reporters as he left the hearing, Mr. Koskinen claimed that he wasn’t the IRS commissioner at all, and that they must be thinking of someone else.