June 26, 2014 5:53 AM EDT

To the list of conduct once unacceptable to–but since embraced by–the Internal Revenue Service we can now add false promises. Called before a House subcommittee to explain his agency’s loss of two years’ worth of emails sought by Congress, IRS director John Koskinen (below) said on June 23 that he knew about the missing emails in March when he said he would deliver them but overpromised because he wanted to see if they were recoverable elsewhere.

Perhaps mindful of the value of bashing tax collectors in an election year, Republicans were outraged. Then came the testimony on June 24 by National Archivist David Ferriero, who said the IRS failure to report the missing emails may violate the Federal Records Act. Less clear: whether the IRS targeted Tea Party groups for scrutiny because of their politics.


This appears in the July 07, 2014 issue of TIME.

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