Issa will recall IRS official who refused to answer questions
May 23rd, 2013
11:55 AM ET
2 years ago

Issa will recall IRS official who refused to answer questions

(CNN) – A top Internal Revenue Service official who declared Wednesday she hadn't broken the law – and then refused to answer lawmaker questions – will be called to appear again in front of a congressional oversight panel, a spokesman for the committee's chairman said Thursday.

Lois Lerner, who oversees the IRS division responsible for tax exempt organizations, invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination Wednesday at a Capitol Hill hearing meant to probe the tax agency's admitted targeting of conservative groups.

But before she clammed up, Lerner declared, "I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws."

Rep. Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, initially dismissed Lerner, despite protestations from Republicans on the panel who said she waived her Fifth Amendment rights with her opening statement.

At the end of the session, Issa announced he was not formally adjourning the hearing in order to consider whether to bring Lerner back.

On Thursday, an Oversight Committee spokesman said Lerner would be compelled to re-appear.

"After consulting with counsel, Chairman Issa has concluded that Ms. Lerner's 5th amendment assertion is no longer valid. She remains under subpoena, the Committee is looking at recalling her for testimony," Issa spokesman Ali Ahmad wrote. The exact time when Lerner will be required to come before the committee has yet to be determined.

Issa's office declined to explain what his counsel's legal basis was for deciding that her Fifth Amendment assertion is no longer valid.

In a survey of constitutional lawyers, most disagreed with Issa's conclusion that Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment right by declaring her innocence.

"One can invoke the Fifth Amendment at any time. Giving a preamble or any kind of statement doesn't void that," said Gloria J. Browne-Marshall an associate professor who teaches constitutional law at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. "Now does it look suspicious? Yes. Does it undermine the person's credibility? Yes."

CNN's Halimah Abdullah contributed to this report.


Filed under: Darrell Issa • IRS
soundoff (273 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    She hasn't answered any questions therefore she did NOT waive her 5th Amendment right. Stop with the political games Issa!!!

    May 23, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  2. thomase

    We demand you answer our questions!
    No, I plead the 5th.
    Well, that wraps it up. Thanks for joining us in our spectacular waste of time!

    May 23, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  3. Safejourney

    Issa needs to consult with an attorney who knows the law and difference between a witness and a defendant

    May 23, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  4. steve

    If it are me I would give them the finger.

    May 23, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  5. SuperD

    Way to Issa!

    The utter idea that this woman can go up to Congress and essentially say, "I'm not going to cooperate" and get away with it cannot stand. Hillary you old goat! You're next!

    You Dems, you can do this the easy way or the hard way. Looks like Obama is going the hard route. Her behavior casts even more questions. This woman is obviously partisan and there is no doubt that this stinks and I'm sure there's info linking her directly to the President.

    Hopefully we can get the IRS out of Odumbocare and get rid of Odumbocare all together. We get more Dem votes on this every day. It's going to stink to high heaven in 2014 and you guys think you're going to gain seats?

    May 23, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  6. Thomas

    Lois Lerner is a republican , appointed by GW Bush , donated 2500 to Romney in 2012 .

    Issa , the king of the kangaroo court !

    May 23, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  7. Steve

    My guess is this whole thing is much ado about nothing. If they were paying their taxes there wouldn't be anything to be investigated.

    May 23, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  8. Boo

    Issa should stop with the grandstanding and the pontificating. ABC NEWs reported that Issa and other Republicans knew what the IRS was doing LAST YEAR. CNN why are you not reporting that?????????????????????????????

    May 23, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  9. Al-NY,NY

    SuperD

    Way to Issa!

    The utter idea that this woman can go up to Congress and essentially say, "I'm not going to cooperate" and get away with it cannot stand. Hillary you old goat! You're next!

    You Dems, you can do this the easy way or the hard way. Looks like Obama is going the hard route. Her behavior casts even more questions. This woman is obviously partisan and there is no doubt that this stinks and I'm sure there's info linking her directly to the President.

    Hopefully we can get the IRS out of Odumbocare and get rid of Odumbocare all together. We get more Dem votes on this every day. It's going to stink to high heaven in 2014 and you guys think you're going to gain seats?
    --–
    Duh Duh Duh-bya appointed her in 2006.........next stupid statement please??

    May 23, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  10. Jim CarreyPermit

    A constitutional law professor says taking the Fifth "undermines a person's credibility AND makes them look suspicious." Really? Wow. Sounds like the law professor needs to take a class in constitutional law herself.

    May 23, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "Issa's office declined to explain what his counsel's legal basis was for deciding that her Fifth Amendment assertion is no longer valid. "

    And that, in and of itself, answers the question. Unable to get anything from her now, he simply wants to make a spectacle of lambasting her and then, since he can't lynch her outright, he'll demand that she be prosecuted for contempt of congress or some such nonsense.

    May 23, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "CNN why are you not reporting that?"

    The controversy must live at all costs.

    May 23, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  13. surf for sun

    What a complete waste of time and money by the Republicans. What Issa and his buddies should be doing is figuring out how to shut down all those 501c3 organizations because they are violating the law that states exclusive purpose for social welfare. Exclusive = 100% not 51% as the IRS interpretation on the law has been using for the last 53 years.

    May 23, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  14. ohgivemeabreak

    Issa knows she did not waive her rights with an opening statement. He didn't get enough press, because of the tornado in OK, so he is going to have a do over and get her back in front of the cameras. Enough already why doesn't Issa put this much effort into jobs bills?

    May 23, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  15. Gary

    Ahhh, Darrel Issa. The " Whack a Mole " of the congress. Keep sticking your head out of the hole. Keep getting it smacked down. Can't wait for the next round.

    May 23, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  16. Rino 1

    She should just lie like the rest of our government.

    May 23, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  17. California Gary

    So what are they going to do.....water board her to get her to talk? Issa had already accused her of a crime prior to the hearing.......they were obviously looking to hang her out to dry.......I don't blame her for not playing the "gotcha" game that ISSA was setting her up for. Taking the "5th" never looks good, but it's better than subjecting yourself to a kangaroo court.

    May 23, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  18. Ken

    Not everyone in Washington is clean. There are individuals who head to Washington with the ambition to do good, and there are a few rising stars that succeed. Some find they are constantly stonewalled in their efforts and, while they depart down the road, are not changed by the actions in Washington but are empty handed in their efforts. And some who are changed by Washington, allowing the corruption and greed to permeate themselves.

    When individuals like Issa make comments like "I did nothing wrong; I didn't break the law", it raises a lot of questions given the amount of corruption and greed we've seen over the years that has come out of Washington. To then plead the 5th, does make this very suspicious. There is more to come in this IRS soap opera; it's fortunately not peppered with all those commercials, but it's fun to watch in a macabre way. Can't wait for the movie to come out. :)

    May 23, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  19. Bob C.

    You can never completely waive your Fifth Amendment right. You can invoke it at any time. More grandstanding.

    The Miranda court held that the privilege is not waived “if the individual answers some questions or gives some information on his own, prior to invoking his right to remain silent.” Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 476 (1966).

    Can anyone in Washington conduct a non-political hearing anymore?

    May 23, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  20. Bear

    So when I get audited by the IRS, I'll simply make a statement, "I paid my taxes and did nothing wrong", take the 5th and walk out! See if they let me get away with that or not.

    May 23, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  21. bombastus

    This at least partly about more air time for Issa and a chance to embarrass Obama. Issa led the campaign to oust Gov. Davis in Calif. in hopes of getting to be Gov. himself but Arnold pulled the rug out from under him. This is Issa's second chance for the limelight. Certainly the IRS needs to be investigated but it would be so much better if a true statesman/woman were in charge rather than Issa. He also better watch out. The more he in on TV the more people will start looking into some of his questionable past dealings and adventures.

    May 23, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  22. Nato823

    Oh you very smart democrats. your applauding someone who did something wrong. This is an Oversight Commitee. The IRS and it's Directors are subject to oversight. It would be like telling your boss that you don't have to answer his questions about how you do your job

    May 23, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    ""CNN why are you not reporting that?"

    The controversy must live at all costs."
    ===

    In fact, let me play this out for you how it should go in Issa's next interview in order to show you exactly why the MSM doesn't want to talk about Issa knowing a year ago:

    "Now, isn't it true, congressman Issa, that you knew about this in July 2012?"

    "Well, yes, I knew about the investigations and their substance and was receiving regular updates."

    "And yet, you didn't say anything about them or call hearings back then. Why is that?"

    "Well, I didn't want to interfere with the ongoing investigation. I felt it was more prudent to wait for their findings and then begin my inquiry."

    "Isn't the precisely what Obama's administration has said was their motivation for not telling Obama...to avoid interfering or even the appearance of him interfering? And isn't that precisely what Obama would still say even if he did know and you attacked him for "doing nothing"?"

    "I, uh, ummmm, look, I didn't come on here to be cross-examined...*tears mic off lapel and throws it on floor before storming out*...screw you guys..."liberal media" blah blah blah..."

    May 23, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  24. MTATL67

    This guys use of his position as chairman for personal political attacks reeks of McCarthyism.

    May 23, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  25. JKlapper

    Unfortunately for "We the People" this bizarre reading of the Constitution seems to be driving our current Government, on BOTH sides of the isle...

    May 23, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11