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Industry group: IRS lost email story ‘makes no sense,’ records should have been kept

An industry group is claiming the IRS should have kept full records of its apparent destruction of ex-official Lois Lerner's hard drive, saying "the notion that these emails just magically vanished makes no sense whatsoever." 

The latest to weigh in on the lost emails controversy is the head of the International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers. Group president Barbara Rembiesa released a statement on Thursday questioning recent testimony by IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, who told Congress last Friday that Lerner's hard drive was "recycled and destroyed" after it crashed in 2011. 

She claimed that a certified "IT asset destruction" team should have been brought in to document and complete that process. 

"If this was done, there would be records. If this was not done, this is the smoking gun that proves the drive or drives were destroyed improperly -- or not at all," she said. 

Rembiesa adds her voice to a growing list of industry experts dubious about agency claims that Lerner's emails disappeared after a hard-drive crash in 2011. 

Lerner is the former head of the Exempt Organizations division, and is at the heart of the controversy over agency targeting of Tea Party groups. After the IRS revealed earlier this month that many of her emails from 2009 to 2011 were gone, outraged Republicans arranged a rapid-fire string of hearings on the matter -- and on the sidelines, some computer experts backed up their suspicions

The IRS, though, insists this was simply a case of a routine computer failure -- one of thousands across the federal government. Koskinen testified on the matter twice since last week, stressing that despite the computer problems, the agency was able to recover 67,000 Lerner emails, including 24,000 from other accounts, from January 2009 to May 2013. 

"It's not unusual for computers anywhere to fail, especially at the IRS in light of the aged equipment IRS employees often have to use," Koskinen testified Monday, claiming over 2,000 agency workers had hard-drive crashes so far this year. 

A letter obtained Friday by Fox News from  Koskinen to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., said that production of Lerner’s emails should be to the committee “by the end of next week.”

Koskinen said he had hoped to provide the committees “with responses today…but critical information is still being collected and verified.”

Last Friday, he told the House Ways and Means Committee that he understands Lerner's hard drive was physically destroyed after technicians were unable to recover data from it in 2011. 

At that hearing, Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., suggested that the government might have a tracking system of sorts. Koskinen said he wasn't aware of whether hard drives have "identifiers," but said: "If they have serial numbers, you're welcome to them." 

Apparently not satisfied with the response, Camp and Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., blasted out a new round of requests on Friday to various branches of the Obama administration asking for details on how they learned of the crash and information from the IRS on the effort to retrieve data from agency computers. They requested the serial numbers of all failed devices and documents on efforts to recover the data. 

"We still can't get straight answers from the IRS or this administration about the circumstances of the destroyed IRS emails," they said in a statement. 

Meanwhile, Republican calls on Capitol Hill for a special prosecutor to probe the IRS were getting louder. 

"All this garbage about, they have old computers is ridiculous. They have the best software. The best hardware," Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas, said. Gohmert says money should be offered to get to the bottom of the missing emails -- $1 million to recover them, and $500,000 for information on who destroyed them. 

"We know those emails are out there. We know they can be found," he said. "We just need people to help find them." 

Koskinen, though, claimed there was no crime involved. 

In Minnesota on Thursday, President Obama referred to recent controversies as "phony scandals," suggesting they are all about politics. 

"It's all geared towards the next election or ginning up a base," he said. "It's not on the level. And that must feel frustrating, and it makes people cynical." 

Fox News' Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.