Issa will recall IRS official who refused to answer questions
May 23rd, 2013
11:55 AM ET
9 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 Lerner's 5th amendment assertion is no longer valid.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Issa's office declined to explain what his counsel's legal basis was for deciding that her Fifth Amendment assertion is no longer valid.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. thetruth

    Feds are once again caught with their pants down trying to screw the American people. Thanks Fed, thanks Obama! They will all go back to their $300 martini lunches while the rest of us struggle to keep our kids fed. Business as usual, Im sad to say.

    May 23, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  2. Yon

    crooket, Your argument is wrong – Period! Tax exemption is the law and it applies to the left and the right equally. There is NO crime in doing what is lawful. Get an education.

    May 23, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  3. SarahTonin

    It really would be a shame if he were elected ... but do you expect the voters to be smart enough to see why it would be a shame? Look at Washington DC and there's your answer!

    May 23, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  4. CJB

    Has anyone noticed how the libs get more and more hysterical the bigger this administration's scandals become. The annointed One has fallen out of graces even with the dems and the liberal media. It's rather hilarious to watch.

    May 23, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  5. AZ Girl

    She did NOT waive her 5th amend rights by providing an opening statement. She was sworn in and given the chance to speak prior to questioning. Questioning had not yet begun.

    May 23, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  6. Steven

    This will more than likely end up before a federal judge.

    May 23, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  7. DB

    I believe that President Obama campaigned on and promised "transparent government" and we have yet to see this after being in office for nearly 5 years. Perhaps he could send a message to government managers and employees by canning this manager for the direct violation of his policy. When individuals take it upon themselves to violate the rules and regulations under which they work, it is time for them to leave. In this situation, she should be fired by Obama, and not be eligible for any government retirement, her retirement bonus, sick leave bonus, only social security time served. Now if she has something to say, and blows the whistle on persons above her that directed her to do this then she should enjoy the immunity of Whistle Blower status.

    May 23, 2013 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  8. don in albuquerque

    @Republicans are the Greatest-Kind of like Georgie W cleaned up the mess?

    May 23, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  9. tamtag

    The IRS admitted they did wrong and inappropriate targeting. This is not a witch hunt, but a serious legal matter.

    May 23, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  10. just sayin

    The Real Tom Paine
    Lois Lerner is a Rrepublican , appointed by GW Bush , donated 2500 to Romney in 2012 . You were referring to partisanship?

    lies, lie, lie.... the liberal trifecta winner of the day... The Real Liar Tom Paine.

    May 23, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  11. Steve Newman

    Too bad the GOP Reps don't have something more important to do. No one would testify while an IG investigation is going on. Besides, this is much to do about nothing.

    May 23, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  12. Steve Newman

    By the way, I doubt any laws were broken here.

    May 23, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  13. Malory Archer


    I think only Democrats should pay taxes since they voted for the Tax KING of America Barack Obama. 2016 the year Socialism is dead when a Republican is voted for Presidenent and cleans up the Obama Mess.


    Fine with me as long as no rethugs are allowed to collect welfare because whether you whether or not you choose to acknowlege it, blue states are the "giver" states taking less from the federal government than they pay in, and red states are "taker" states paying in far less than they receive from the federal government. Cutting off you deadbeat reds would save us blues a mint!

    May 23, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Issa knew about this last summer, but suddenly it's become a hot issue? Sit down and shut up car thief. Bush DID target liberal groups for scrutiny by the FBI, notice how little the left screamed about it? So little you didn't even notice it, or thought it was ok because the libs "are commies and socialists". What a joke the repubs are making our country.....

    May 23, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  15. Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)

    You can't make a comment on the issue liek saying you're innocent then claim the 5th. The door is open and if she doesn't answer questions she will/should be held in contempt.

    May 23, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  16. sc

    it is going to be funny when it turns out those organizations were supposed to be taxed per the law, pre-O and were not. This is going to be hilarious.

    May 23, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  17. Mark in San Diego

    This is going to be fun to watch! One of two things is going to happen; she spills her guts and throws everyone under the bus after getting immunity, or pulls the 5th again and is held in contempt. A trial would push through 2013 and into the summer of 2014 right before the elections. Democrats – which is worse? Prolonging the scandal or throwing some high level democrats under the bus. Is the Sec. of Treasury expendable

    May 23, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  18. Malory Archer


    It is wrong to target people of a certain political party period. I am sure if a Republican was president and this happened to progressive groups that Democrats would be crying foul too.


    We did cry foul when the NAACP & ACLU were targeted by the IRS during the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue's reign of error. We were called "sore losers" and told to "get over it".

    May 23, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  19. sc

    They are going to make her talk??? How is that?? waterboarding???

    May 23, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  20. Malory Archer

    w l jones

    In law and in real life there public statement and there private for those need to know if she were a man the general elector never woulder herald of this story.



    May 23, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  21. truth hurts but realiy bites

    Subpeona every single person in her chain of command, all the way down to the people at the bottom, to testify. Let the American people see the face of their big government in action as they all plead the 5th. And then sit and ponder the consequences of Obama and the Democrats making it bigger, meaner and nastier. Yeah, big government is your friend says Obama. Well look at these people and tall me you believe that.

    May 23, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  22. Robyn

    It seems clear that what any person at the IRS did or did not do, is irrelevant to Mr. Issa.
    He is once more playing political games at the public's expense.
    His assertion that the Bill of Rights is "no longer valid" is frightening coming from
    someone who has spent his entire career skating from one ethical lapse to the next.

    May 23, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  23. Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)

    It's time we held this administration and the federal government in general to take responsibility for it's actions and explain itself considering they do in fact work for us, We The People.

    May 23, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  24. Guy

    Far too long American citizens have subjected to the Gestapo-like tactics of the IRS. Drag her back in there and compel her to testify. She blew her cover when she made the "I'm Innocent" statement and then plead the Fifth Amendment Treat the IRS bureaucrat the same way the IRS treats American citizens.

    May 23, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  25. bbk

    Witch hunt by Issa

    May 23, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
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