The hearing also included a bit of deja vu for the committee when members grilled McCarthy on lost emails from a hard-drive crash (the same issue that wiped out emails from IRS employee Lois Lerner). In this case, the emails in question were from retired EPA employee Philip North, who was involved in the agency’s decision to begin the process of preemptively vetoing the Pebble Mine project in Alaska.
North, who declined an interview request by the committee, is retired, and committee staff say they have been unable to track him down. According to a committee aide, North’s hard drive crashed in 2010—which was around the same time that the committee is investigating the agency’s discussions of a potential veto—and the emails were not backed up.
McCarthy said it appeared there were some emails the agency could not produce that should have been kept, but she was still working to see if they could be recovered. McCarthy made it clear that it was a small set of emails and that the agency had notified the National Archives of the problem Tuesday, though had told Oversight Committee staff earlier.
Rep. Mark Meadows, a Republican from North Carolina, raised concerns that the failure to back up the emails was a violation of the Federal Records Act.
Did I mention that now Obama is just laughing at us?