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. John

    "Why didn't she notify members of Congress?" Are you kidding me? Congress is the last place to spill knowledge of politically sensitive subjects.....why because they act ONLY on a PARTISAN basis and almost never in the best interests of the country..............really pretty simple...............the most partisan group in our nations' history...........

    May 21, 2013 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  2. Regularguy22

    So much for transparency...........

    May 21, 2013 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "while the bosses that gave the orders"

    There is absolutely ZERO evidence that any "orders" like you suggest were given. Lerner obtained a lawyer and is pleading the 5th because Boehner opened his fat yap and called for scalps and someone to go to jail and the GOP/Teatrolls have proven extraordinarily willing to use the hearing process as a form of crucifixion. They'd berate her and reduce her to tears at the hearing, try to refuse to let Dems ask her anything if it's in the House, twist everything she says and ask loaded catch-22 questions she can't answer, demand that DOJ prosecute her and then offer her immunity if she will agree to throw someone higher up under the bus. The most transparent thing in DC is GOP/Teatroll strategery.

    May 21, 2013 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "ok she's pretty much admitting she violated the law."

    For someone who claims to love himself some Constimatooshun, you apparently don't understand it very well. Go learn why your statement is dogpoop.

    May 21, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  5. Jason

    Fire this woman and send her to prison.

    May 21, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  6. Jason

    Fine her every penny of salary she has ever earned at the IRS.

    May 21, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  7. Mark

    typical liberal scuuuummm bbbbaaagggg

    May 21, 2013 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  8. Lucia

    Larry you are so right on...... Cheney and his secret service person could not see a person that was in the line of his gun.The story lasted one day and Cheney just went home and forgot about what he did. This is the kind of person that should not have a gun. Most of the government is ok but there is a lot of bad apples that continue to get away with
    murder, steal money from Americans and nothing is done. I't only going to get better for them due to no punishment or
    they go into hiding with the Help of the bush and cheney ,

    May 21, 2013 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  9. Lord Ligonier

    Oversight ???

    We don't need no steenking oversight.

    May 21, 2013 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  10. GOP = Greed Over People

    And she would be different from the shrub's attorney general, Alberto Gonzales pleading the Fifth, how exactly?

    Remember, all you cons came to his defense because "he was innocent until proven guilty".

    May 21, 2013 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  11. L_Hill

    Is it a surprise to anybody that the federal agency in charge of collecting taxes, targeted groups who believe that taxes are high enough already? Well, any enemy of the IRS is a friend of mine. – Lauryn Hill

    May 21, 2013 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  12. Angie

    When you have something to hide, you plead the 5th...this issue looks worser by the minute. This is not a witch hunt, this is a process to learn the truth. but, many can not handle the truth...I hope they get to the bottom of this horrible targeting of conservatives, or just of anybody, for that matter.

    May 21, 2013 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  13. Mark

    I can't believe this is not the lead story on this website!

    May 21, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  14. Raintree

    Your transparent government at work.

    May 21, 2013 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  15. Dean

    Does it matter cnn wont report the truth

    May 21, 2013 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  16. rs1201

    in other words...she broke the law and doesn't want to admit it...she'll go to jail along with the rest of them!

    May 21, 2013 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  17. M.Ouderland

    Black Nixon needs to fess up!

    May 21, 2013 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  18. dewed

    Oh, sweet...I can just "Plead the 5th" on my 1040 next year!

    May 21, 2013 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  19. Alfred E Newman

    Real question, why is this news to anyone?

    May 21, 2013 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  20. bruce t

    drink only a fifth ?'re a lightweight

    May 21, 2013 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  21. Nick

    Maybe we should get Holder and the justice department to subpoena her phone and email records.

    May 21, 2013 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  22. craig

    @Rick McDaniel

    I somehow doubt, given her title and position, that she's a "little guy." If she was in charge and the orders for this came from above, she should have worried about it a long time ago. Obviously it didn't bother her enough to stop it...or alternatively, to resign or refuse to do it. At the least, it appears she allowed it to happen and/or continue, so she's going to have to come up with some pretty fancy dancing to claim innocence.

    May 21, 2013 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  23. Belseth

    The take away from all this should be anyone that dares to stand up to any conservative group will be attacked so it's better to leave them alone and let them do whatever they want, legal or not. The conservatives want to be feared and it's working. Any group that depends on fear is very dangerous.

    May 21, 2013 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  24. Dale

    @ Rick McDaniel-I guess looking back the closest example of that would be Oliver North and Ronald Reagan or maybe Col. Powell and Bush '43

    @liberal sense all of them are closer to reality than Faux News.

    May 21, 2013 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  25. Tea Party LoL

    Who cares, it's only the Tea Party... I think the last election showed how much of a majority appeal they have – or, should I say the utter disdain the majority has for them.... This will only strengthen support for the Dems..

    May 21, 2013 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
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