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(CNN) – 'Sorry, my hard drive crashed,' is probably not the kind of excuse that would get someone off the hook if he were being audited.
But that's exactly the explanation the IRS, and now the administration are using to explain more than two years of missing e-mails from Lois Lerner, former director of the Exempt and Government Entities Organizations Division at the IRS.
Lerner has been at the heart of the House investigation into whether the agency unfairly targeted tea party groups.
The IRS says a crashed hard drive caused them to lose all of Lerner's e-mails from January 2009 to April 2011.
"At the time, Ms. Lerner asked IRS IT professionals to restore her hard drive, but they were unable to do so," the agency said in a statement.
Incoming White House press secretary Josh Earnest stands by that explanation.
"I think it's entirely reasonable. And it's fact," he told reporters Monday.
But Republicans aren't convinced, and they are outraged that it took a year for the IRS to tell them about the crash.
Further complicating matters is the testimony of IRS commissioner John Koskinen from March, when he told Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, that all the agency's e-mails are stored on servers, not individual hard drives.
Koskinen was on the Hill Monday to meet privately with Senate finance committee chairman Ron Wyden, and ranking member Sen. Orrin Hatch.
"We're not hiding anything," Koskinen tells CNN.