IRS official to plead the Fifth at congressional hearing
May 21st, 2013
04:54 PM ET
11 months ago

IRS official to plead the Fifth at congressional hearing

(CNN) – The official in charge of an embattled Internal Revenue Service division will invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a Wednesday appearance before a House oversight panel, a spokesman for the committee said.

Lois Lerner, who oversaw the IRS division handling requests for tax-exempt status, made her intentions known in a letter to the committee's chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa. Lerner was the first IRS official to publically admit that the tax agency was using extra scrutiny on conservative groups applying to become tax exempt.

"The Committee has been contacted by Ms. Lerner's lawyer who stated that his client intended to invoke her 5th amendment right and refuse to answer questions," the committee's spokesman Ali Ahmad wrote in a statement. "Ms. Lerner remains under subpoena from Chairman Issa to appear at tomorrow's hearing - the Committee has a Constitutional obligation to conduct oversight. Chairman Issa remains hopeful that she will ultimately decide to testify tomorrow about her knowledge of outrageous IRS targeting of Americans for their political beliefs."

Lerner revealed during a question-and-answer session at a meeting of the American Bar Association a week and a half ago that the IRS was targeting conservative groups when assessing applications for tax exempt status. Later, officials at the agency said the question that prompted Lerner's response was planted as a way for the information to become public.

Her disclosure came days before the release of an independent inspector general's report, which indicated Lerner learned about the conservative targeting in June 2011. While she took steps to stop the practice, lawmakers want to know why she didn't notify members of Congress.

“While we respect Ms. Lerner’s use of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment, we are disturbed she saw fit to trample over our First Amendment rights by harassing us and many other groups for our views,” Jenny Beth Martin, the co-Founder and national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots, wrote in a statement Tuesday.


Filed under: Darrell Issa • IRS
soundoff (282 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    5th right away.

    May 21, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  2. just sayin

    ok she's pretty much admitting she violated the law. start digging and find out what she was doing and who she was speaking with. otherwise she is obstructing justice. throw her in jail.

    May 21, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  3. Jeff in Virginia

    I can see Dana Bash salivating over this sensational headline from a mile away.

    May 21, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  4. roger

    The fifth amendment – the right to remain silent when you broke the law so you don't go to jail. Anyone uses the 5th should be automatically found guilty.

    May 21, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  5. Tommy G

    Isn't this the same woman that fast tracked approval of Obama's group, OFA??? This woman sounds like she knows a lot. I hope they protect her so that nothing happens to her. She may know too much.

    May 21, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  6. Karen

    Yet she fast tracked phony liberal non-profits. She really should be prosecuted. She violated the civil rights of the tea party and conservatives, and they should be allowed to sue her in federal court. I am sure she will be ambassador to the Bahamas by then.

    May 21, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  7. Thomas

    @just sayin
    ok she's pretty much admitting she violated the law. start digging and find out what she was doing and who she was speaking with. otherwise she is obstructing justice. throw her in jail.
    ====
    Water Bored Her till she fingers Obama !

    Hey Mr. just sayin .

    Her attorney is smart , why give the kangaroo , dog and pony show comity a bone .

    The 5th is a right we have , there for a reason . In your black and white little would , it woud be hard to articulat such the reason other then GULT !

    May 21, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  8. IMPEACH OBAMA

    If I speak OBAMA goes to JAIL...

    If you hear no Evil you will see no Evil.

    May 21, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  9. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    "I" will have the MOST transparent administration in american history.

    Memo to ALL staff:
    Plead the 5th.

    May 21, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  10. Larry

    I don't think that the 5th should apply to higher ups in Govt. The 5th is a tool to protect a citizen from the Govt. If you work for the Govt., you are the Govt. You should be held accountable for your actions at any level.

    May 21, 2013 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  11. Borderless

    Ultimately this administration bears the full weight of responsibility for all three (to date, this month) scandals. Just like Bush was blamed (by Obama, among many others) for the sluggish response of FEMA after Hurricane Katrina, so should Obama be blamed for the scandals that are plaguing his second term. An additional note: Bush stood nothing to gain from FEMA's Katrina fail. But in each of Obama's scandals, the end results of the actions by those involved maintained or benefited the president's political image. He had motive. Obama is the most corrupt American president ever,

    May 21, 2013 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  12. lmc11

    Obama & the dems so eager to take away our 1st, 2nd and 4th amendment rights and so quick to hide behind the 5th to do it!

    May 21, 2013 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  13. becca

    Pleading the 5th......how Rick Scott head fraud of FLORIDUH, how ABU GONZO, AG under W, how Republican. Still, I say keep doing what you're doing to all the NPO's and sift out the bougus freeloaders. GOOD JOB.

    May 21, 2013 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  14. Donna

    Well, well, well.... lookey here! Lois Lerner going to take the 5th?! Isn't it nice that one of our highly paid IRS officials has pretty much admitted to criminal activity. All they have to do now is prove what she did.

    She sure does look like a smoking gun. Hopefully she will bargain to get a walk free card and rat out all of the higher ups in the Obama administration that participated in this targeting of political opponents.

    May 21, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  15. Paul

    Too bad the Justice Dept. doesn't go after her phone and e-mail records like they did the AP's. Oh that's right, they were looking for evidence of a crime. Hey, wait a minute....

    May 21, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  16. TEAPARTY MIKE

    Taking the fifth? So much for transparancey in the Obama administration. I have seen several reports that the White House vistors log shows Obama met with Collen Kelly, who is the head of the NTEU labor union, one day before the IRS started targeting TEA PARTY and conservative groups applications. That is the union that the reported rougue IRS empoleyees are members of. The IRS employees that are said to have gone rougue on their own and targeted TEA PARTY and conservative groups while not giving special attention to progrssive and labor groups applications. It was reported at today's daily press conference one reporter shouted a question to Carney about this as he was walking off the stage. Of course Carney did not respond. Will be intersting to see if there are questions in the future about this. Like did Obama and Collen Kelly talk about TEA PARTY groups applying for tax exempt status? What did the talk about?

    May 21, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  17. KawiMan

    String her up on the nearest tree!!!

    May 21, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  18. Thomas

    @roger
    The fifth amendment – the right to remain silent when you broke the law so you don't go to jail. Anyone uses the 5th should be automatically found guilty.
    ======

    Nazi German law , as you support had no 5th amendment . And millions suffered !

    It's a court of law , not of men .

    Thank God

    May 21, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  19. PJ

    ".........find out what she was doing and who she was speaking with..........."
    Well..................

    Darrell Issa knew – he ordered the investigation, was she speaking to him?
    Shulman – IRS Commissioner during this time frame knew, but he "hears no evil, sees no evil, speaks no evil"...........
    he just cuts and runs, was she speaking to him?
    Lois Lerner knew, and "tried to stop it" – a case of "believe it or not" -

    All Republicans, two appointed by Bush, and one crook elected.
    Why would they tell the truth? "Start digging" – but be careful what you wish for.

    May 21, 2013 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  20. us_1776

    They wanted to know why she also didn't notify members of Congress.

    Are you kidding?

    Who would want to notify these congressional clowns about anything?

    .

    May 21, 2013 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  21. Nameb

    Does anyone believe a single word coming from this administration?

    May 21, 2013 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  22. Thomas

    @Donna
    Well, well, well.... lookey here! Lois Lerner going to take the 5th?! Isn't it nice that one of our highly paid IRS officials has pretty much admitted to criminal activity. All they have to do now is prove what she did.

    She sure does look like a smoking gun. Hopefully she will bargain to get a walk free card and rat out all of the higher ups in the Obama administration that participated in this targeting of political opponents.

    ===========

    Did a male write that for you to post ?

    May 21, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  23. Borderless

    Obama's mob: DOJ–the enforcer. They take care of Obama's enemies the old fashioned way. IRS–the money guys. They grease the right palms and extort from the unfaithful. Jay Carney–Mr. Smooth talker. He can twist, spin and flop his way out of any situation. Send him when a little subtlety is needed.

    May 21, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  24. Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)

    Demcorats will continue their ignorant ways as usual.

    FACT: If this was a republican administration they'd be screaming murder.

    How many scandals now? 5? 6? Loosing track.

    May 21, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  25. just sayin

    if only we didn't have a corrupt and incompetent attorney general and a justice department busy attacking and harassing journalists and news organizations. maybe the ameri can people deserve better than this corrupt obama administration that is now hiding the 5th amendment because they know they were involved in criminal activity. this is where the obama adminstration begins to unravel....

    May 21, 2013 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
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