J. Scott Applewhite, File, Associated Press
In this May 22, 2013 file photo, Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner refuses to answer questions as the House Oversight Committee holds a hearing to investigate the extra scrutiny the IRS gave Tea Party and other conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
WASHINGTON — Congressional investigators say this is why they want all of Lois Lerner's emails.
Newly released emails show the former IRS official referring to some right-wing Republicans as "crazies" and more, a revelation that is fueling GOP claims of a political conspiracy at the tax agency to target conservative groups.
Lerner headed the IRS division that handles applications for tax-exempt status. In a series of emails with an associate in November 2012, Lerner made two disparaging remarks about some members of the GOP, including one remark that was vulgar.
Rep. Dave Camp, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, released the emails Wednesday as part of his committee's investigation. The Michigan Republican says the emails show Lerner's "disgust with conservatives."
In one email, Lerner called some conservatives crazies. In the other, she called them "assholes." The committee redacted the wording to "_holes" in the material it released publicly, but a committee spokeswoman confirmed to The Associated Press that the email said "assholes."
Lerner retired from the IRS last fall. Lerner's lawyer, William W. Taylor III, did not respond to a request for comment. His office said he was traveling.
Congress and the Justice Department are investigating whether the IRS improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status from conservative groups during the 2010 and 2012 elections.
In June, the IRS told Congress that an untold number of Lerner's emails were lost when her computer hard drive crashed in 2011. The revelation set off a new round of hearings on Capitol Hill, as well as a new push by Republicans for a special prosecutor to investigate.
The Obama administration is resisting calls for a special prosecutor, noting the numerous ongoing investigations. Both the Justice Department and the IRS inspector general are investigating the lost emails as part of wider probes.
Despite the lost emails, the IRS says it is providing congressional investigators with 67,000 emails to and from Lerner.
In the newly released emails, Lerner apparently was traveling in Britain in November 2012 when she used her Blackberry to send a series of emails to a personal associate who did not work at the IRS. Camp said Lerner was using her government email account.
Lerner told the person that she overheard some women say America was bankrupt and "going down the tubes."
"Well, you should hear the whacko wing of the GOP," replied the person, whose name was blacked out by Camp's office. "The US is through; too many foreigners sucking the teat; time to hunker down, buy ammo and food, and prepare for the end. The right wing radio shows are scary to listen to."
Lerner replies: "Great. Maybe we are through if there are that many assholes."
The other person replies: "And I'm talking about the hosts of the shows. The callers are rabid."
Lerner: "So we don't need to worry about alien teRrorists (sic). It's our own crazies that will take us down."
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In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Camp said, "This email shows that Ms. Lerner's mistreatment of conservative groups was driven by her personal hostility toward conservatives."
Lerner has emerged as a central figure in several congressional investigations into the tax agency's handling of applications for tax-exempt status by tea party and other conservative groups. Twice Lerner refused to answer questions at congressional hearings, invoking her constitutional right against self-incrimination.
In May, the House voted to hold her in contempt of Congress.
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