Top IRS Official Will Take Fifth Before Congress
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 04:39 PM
By: Greg Richter
The IRS official over the division that reviews tax-exempt applications will invoke her Fifth Amendment right not to testify before Congress, her lawyer says.
Lois Lerner was scheduled to appear Wednesday before the House Oversight Committee. But in a letter to committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., her lawyer says she will not offer testimony under her constitutional rights against self-incrimination, the Los Angeles Times reports.
"She has not committed any crime or made any misrepresentation but under the circumstances she has no choice but to take this course," said the letter from Lerner's defense attorney William W. Taylor III.
Taylor says in the letter that the Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation into why conservative groups were targeted for extra scrutiny and that Issa's committee has asked Lerner for an explanation why she gave "false or misleading information" four times in 2012.
Taylor asked that Lerner be excused from appearing since she will not be answering questions. Since she will not testify, Taylor argued that making Lerner appear would "have no purpose other than to embarrass or burden her."
The inspector general's report said Lerner was made aware in June 2011 that agents had used terms such as "tea party" and "patriot" to single out groups for additional scrutiny. She ordered that the criteria be changed.
In testimony to Congress, however, she never admitted the practice had taken place, even when asked multiple times by legislators.