Lois Lerner's lawyer William Taylor appeared Sunday in a first-time TV interview with CNN's Candy Crowley on State of the Union. Taylor defended his client, saying she did nothing wrong and is being vilified by "screaming" Republicans.
Taylor made it out to be that Lerner's computer simply crashed in the same manner anyone's computer would. He says the story is "undisputed" and that there's really nothing to it:
The record that was created at the time in terms of e-mails is undisputed. She walked into the office one day and her screen went blue. She asked for help in restoring it and the IT people came and attempted to restore it. They even went so far as to send it to another expert to try to restore the e-mails.
Taylor further brushed aside any suspicions by saying there have been 2,000 computer crashes in the IRS since the first of January, implying that there is nothing unique with Lerner's technical issue.
Host Crowley wanted to know if the e-mails are irretrievable. She added, "I think that's what's sort of blowing people's minds. We get it; the computers crash. But to say we couldn't get it and so then we shredded the hard drive. You know as an attorney that that's one of the things you would pounce on and go whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute."
Sure, but you know, you do the best you can under the circumstances. Nobody was thinking about trying to keep anything from being discovered. She was as upset as anybody else was about the loss of the e-mails and the other documents which were on there, which were quite important to her. But the truth is, this was one of those things that happened at the time she did everything she could to retrieve it. She reported it right away, and that's the story. That's all there is to it.
Crowley pushed back, still charging that this is all very suspicious in light of Lerner targeting conservative groups and somehow, conveniently, all of the data relevant to that matter is gone and the hard drive destroyed. Taylor said the e-mails actually pre-date any relevance to the case:
Well, I get [that] it's convenient to create suspicion. Actually the e-mails that are missing are way before the time in which Congressman [Darrell] Issa and his colleagues are suggesting that there was unfairness or anything like it at the IRS. The truth is these e-mails pre-date most anything that's of any relevance to anybody, but you can see why it's convenient to say there's a computer crash and therefore there must be something nefarious going on.
Taylor, in attempt to portray his client in a good light, inadvertently points out a major issue within the American political system by saying, "Lois Lerner is a lifetime federal employee. She's not a political employee."
Earlier in the program, House Oversight Committee Issa appeared and called Taylor a liar, a title he has also given to Lerner. Taylor declined to respond but said, "He's wrong," and chalked it up to election-year politics:
It's convenient. This is election-year politics. It's convenient to have a demon that they can create and point to. Let me tell you something basic about this -- people who want to give money to elections and do so in a tax-free way have to submit themselves to the scrutiny of the IRS to be sure that they're complying with the rules that limit political activity. If the IRS is not looking at political activity in the (c)4 applications, which is what this is, they're not doing what they're supposed to be doing. So it's like saying they're examining us for political activity when that's exactly the criteria that they're submitting for their applications.
Crowley pointed to the federal paperwork law that states that all electronic correspondence must be printed on paper as a backup. She asked if Lerner violated that law as well, seeing as no paper copies of the "lost" e-mails have been turned over. Taylor brushed this off as well:
She printed out some things, not others. You can't print out hundreds of thousands of e-mails. You know, what's a federal record is a subjective question. I'm sure not everything [was printed] but she printed out a lot of things. Everything has been turned over, and over and over.
Lerner has pleaded the Fifth and Crowley recognized that as a basic American right, but she wanted to know why Lerner hasn't spoken out if she didn't do anything wrong and end the case against her. Taylor said that "screaming" Republicans are to blame who never intended this to be a fair process. "From the beginning, the Republican majority has screamed without any evidence about things that she did," Taylor said. He added, "The only purpose of having her there would be to vilify her."
Again Crowley pressed that if Lerner is innocent, she can quickly clear her name by testifying the truth. But Taylor said, "If she's done nothing wrong, she doesn't need to be subjected to the kind of bullying that goes on in that committee."
At the end of the interview, Taylor confirmed that there have been death threats made to Lerner and her family. But worse than that, in his estimation, Republicans have turned her into "a villain in a way that's very, very unfair." And throwing the full protection gauntlet down, ends with this:
She's a person who did everything she thought was right, and now she's being blamed for things which aren't really even scandals.