IRS official to plead the Fifth at congressional hearing
May 21st, 2013
04:54 PM ET
5 years 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. Shamma Lammadingdong

    All I can think of is Dave Chapelle in that skit where he just keeps pleading the "fif" when asked about being a crack dealer.

    May 22, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  2. Harry 101


    Poor TEaTards. They think government workers are lazy, but then make it a federal case when gov employees do their jobs. I think the IRS should get a raise.
    Wow now thats bright! I woiuld pick you to label a TARD every time.

    May 22, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  3. Sailor

    Your tax dollars at work.

    May 22, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  4. Unknown11

    CNN carries the story of the person in charge of the administration misusing the power of the IRS to bully and limit contributions to their political opponents, during an election, half way down the page just below the story of a store clerk winning the lottery. Where is the outrage? What would be happening if their journalists were being investigated? What would be happening if this were the Bush administration? Where is your shame?

    May 22, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  5. mike Lake Orion Michigan

    This doesn't pass the smell test for the White House. I'm sorry but this isn't the type of Government I want!

    May 22, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  6. Anonymous

    I agree that targeting one group is wrong....they should investigate, fire people who need to be fired, and update the system so it never happens again. That said, has any group that was being targeting complained about the actual CONTENT of the investigations? In other words, the only probem here is that the IRS should look into ALL of these types of organizations, whether liberal, conservative or other......

    May 22, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  7. Robb

    I wonder if she will fall under the FOIA? The information she has could well lead to ending a government cover of important information.

    May 22, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  8. mkuske

    Unbelievable that this story which now has its participants pleading the 5th is being buried 3/4 of the way down the latest news section of CNN's website. Pleading the 5th means the participants know there was illegal corruption going on and that they were involved in. This is huge news and CNN is still trying to minimize it. It is harder and harder every day to call them a news organization.

    May 22, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  9. Mark Anderson

    Our Republican governor pleaded the fifth 75 times, then he was elected by fellow Repubicans. They know all about it. Just ask Rick Scott.

    May 22, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  10. Ian

    Nothing like transparency huh? If something is going to fall on her, why doesn't she talk to someone and make a deal?

    This is absurd.

    May 22, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  11. Joe T.

    This once great country has devolved into little more than a third-world dictatorship and you people in the media have facilitated that process. You will soon find yourselves either serving exclusively the new masters you've helped create or begging on the street corner.

    May 22, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  12. Tom

    This is not a Republic or Democratic issue, it is an issue of freedom. Freedom to express your views on both sides without the possiblity of the government targeting you. Whether you are an Obama suportor or not, the governement and particulary the IRS should not be able to target anyone for their beliefs (thoughts).

    May 22, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  13. DC Johnny

    The most amusing part of this entire saga is reading the comments by some of the liberal sheep who actually support these illegal practices of the IRS, only because they are so misinformed that they didn't hear Obama himself speak about how absurdly inappropriate those very practices were.

    Get your talking points straight, liberal crazies. Clearly you missed your last meeting.

    May 22, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  14. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    IF you're a conservative and you really dislike scandals, then google the following then return and tell us how you feel...

    -George W. Bush's Warrantless NSA wiretapping/surveillance program implemented by executive order
    -The 2007 Justice Department dismissal of 8 U.S. Attorneys
    -The Bush White House email scandal in violation of the 1978 Presidential Record Act and the 1939 Hatch Act
    -The Libby scandal
    -What CIA Director George Tenet told George W. Bush about intelligence findings confirming that Iraq possessed NO WMDS
    -Predatory Lender's Partner in Crime

    May 22, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  15. CC

    Another GOP souped up scandal that's going nowhere.

    May 22, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  16. Goblin King

    We know no one in the MSM will ever question this administration on anything they do. I am sure they will find some way to blame it all on Bush in the end. So nothing to see here.

    May 22, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  17. Curious Fellow

    he truth starts to leak out. For years Democrats, like willing puppets have raved about our WH admin. Blindly following the messiah without any thought as to where our country is going.
    Now we can all watch while we descend into a 3rd world status. When will you wake up and see why corruption and lies should not be the main stream diet for this country.
    Stop the petty bravado. Lets get together and bring sanity back to America. Our children deserve it, the country deserves it, and all those Vets who fought for this country deserve it.
    Start being Americans again.

    May 22, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |

    Isn't she the lady now in charge of the division on obamacare?

    May 22, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  19. Fladabosco

    I am a left leaning liberal and I want everyone at the IRS who was involved to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    May 22, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  20. Fair is Fair

    Hey... it's her right, guaranteed by our Constitution.

    Having said that, I'll be the first to admit that I get suspicious when someone takes this route while testifying. Inevitably, the "what is she hiding?" thoughts arrive. Human nature.

    The bottom line is that if one tells the truth – CONSISTENTLY – then it would be difficult for any lawyer to trip someone up with gotcha questions. And really... shouldn't we be asking for consistent honesty in those who work in government?

    May 22, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  21. MTB

    Gotta love how CNN buries this story...

    May 22, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  22. schwartzy13

    Of course she will...she's a COWARD!

    May 22, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  23. Bob

    Give.her immunity.and force her to testify. The American people deserve to know the facts even if one person has to go free.

    May 22, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  24. CJB

    She should be the first to file criminal charges against. Next.

    May 22, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  25. CJB

    The libs. The party of death – death to babies, death to Ambassadors, death to liberty and freedom.

    May 22, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
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