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Special Report

All-Star Panel: How missing emails impact IRS targeting scandal

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," June 16, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)       

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, D - MD: They have an understanding and we seem to have an understanding, and they don't seem to be the same. So are you going to provide the documents for Lois Lerner?

JOHN KOSKINEN, IRS COMMISSIONER: Yes.

CUMMINGS: That were subpoenaed?

KOSKINEN: Yes.

CUMMINGS: And how long will that take?

KOSKINEN: I do not know. I know it's going to take us several weeks.

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ, R - UT: You have got to be kidding me. Thirteen months ago we asked for these e-mails and now suddenly they can't find them. How convenient. These things don't just disappear. They don't just fall off the end of the earth. They're out there. They just don't want us to have them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: IRS officials blaming a 2011 crash, computer crash of the hard drive for keeping the agency from turning over thousands of e-mails from 2009 to 2011. Here's what the White House said about this today, quote, Josh Earnest, "It's entirely reasonable because it's the truth and it's fact. The speculation otherwise I think is indicative of the kind of conspiracies that are propagated around this story. There is ample evidence to indicate that a good-faith effort has been made by the IRS to cooperate with Congressional overnight and the far-fetched skepticism expressed by some Republican members of Congress I think is not at all surprising and not particularly believable." Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: These guys are living on a different planet. They asked for this a year ago. It's now discovered that they are lost. I've seen quotes from computer experts who worked for decades at Microsoft who say this can absolutely be found. And we already heard from one of the IRS officials a few months ago that all of this stuff is backed up.

Now, the idea -- here we have -- Nixon lost 18 minutes. Obama now lost two years of e-mail. And one thing that people don't remember the second article of impeachment for Richard Nixon was the abuse of the IRS to pursue political enemies. This is a high crime. This is not a triviality. When the president said there was a smidgen of corruption, this all had to do a rogue operation in Cincinnati, we already know from a newly released email as a result of a Freedom of Information Act procedure that it was run from the Washington IRS and not a rogue operation out there. And now the question is was the White House involved, political people involved? And these e-mails hold the secret, and all of a sudden we are asked to believe they have disappeared into thin air.

BAIER: Ron?

RON FOURNIER, NATIONAL JOURNAL: Josh's statement, with all due respect, is insulting to my intelligence and it really makes me angry. The reason there is questions about this is because they haven't answered the questions. The fact of the matter is we don't know the facts. We don't know if anybody is guilty or not.

But we do one of the most pernicious things our government can do is use the IRS to come after us. So once that allegation is out there the president has an allegation, and as a matter of fact, he promised he would do this to get to the bottom of it. We needed to see immediately every email in the IRS involving this incident and from Lois Lerner and every e-mail in the White House and the campaign revolving around this targeting both of Democrats and of conservative groups. They have stonewalling for 13 months. A year ago, after only six weeks of this, I wrote a column saying that the Republicans are overreaching and the White House is overly political. We need to have a special prosecutor. I renewed that call on Friday. Until they cough up the evidence and let the public see whether or not they were being guilty, it's hard to presume anything other than a cover-up.

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yes. I mean, compare the reaction in this town, particularly by the media in this town when 40 years ago 18 and a half minutes out of Nixon's tapes out of hours and hours and hours of tapes were missing, the country was incandescent. Now you have two years and conveniently these are the emails that are Lois Lerner not communicating within the IRS but with other people, perhaps the White House, perhaps. We're not going to know. This matter because the IRS is a law enforcement agency. It is the most intrusive and potentially the most punitive agency of the federal government, and we know beyond per venture that it has been politicized and has forfeited any right it had to be presumed innocent in a case like this.  I have one question for the IRS. How many computers crashed back then?  Was it just one? Just Lois Lerner's? That would be really interesting to know.

BAIER: Several lawmakers are already calling for the NSA to get involved.

FOURNIER: That's the irony of it. You have overlapping scandals here. I want to give this president the benefit of the doubt. I want to give every president who I cover and who is my president the benefit of the doubt.  They don't deserve the benefit of the doubt. They have squandered that. We need to see the facts. Just turn over the e-mails and let's see what's going on.

And it's not just -- first of all, if you are going to believe they were lost at the IRS, let's set that aside. If there was wrongdoing, those emails, they weren't just written inside the IRS. They went to the White House and they went to the campaign. Where are those e-mails?

WILL: I think they went to the Justice Department.

FOURNIER: Where are those emails, exactly.

BAIER: Lois Lerner at the time asked IRS IT professionals to restore her hard drive but they were unable to do. Nonetheless, the IRS has or will produce 24,000 e-mails from 2009 to 2011.

KRAUTHAMMER: I would say the urgency of restoring her e-mails is slightly higher today than it was in 2011. So I think they ought to try once again, bring in outside experts, people who are not Democrats or Republicans who know computers and turn them loose. The answer that we got from Josh Earnest I think, is the definition of contempt of Congress. You really have to think that Congress and the rest of us are stupid if we tore believe what they are telling us.

BAIER: Besides this channel, one other channel and network television covered this. Surprising to you, George?

WILL: Not anymore, no, because people have been trying to force the IRS scandal unto the national consciousness and failing because, unlike Watergate, it's like Watergate in every other particular in that it is an abuse of government to punish political enemies, except the engagement of the media.

BAIER: That is it for the panel, but stay tuned for a Father's Day balancing act.   

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