IRS Official Will Plead the Fifth (Update: Issa Subpoenas Lerner Anyway)
May 21, 2013 - 1:01 pm
Lois Lerner believes that telling the truth under oath may incriminate her.
A top IRS official in the division that reviews nonprofit groups will invoke the Fifth Amendment and refuse to answer questions before a House committee investigating the agency’s improper screening of conservative nonprofit groups.
Lois Lerner, the head of the exempt organizations division of the IRS, won’t answer questions about what she knew about the improper screening – or why she didn’t reveal it to Congress, according to a letter from her defense lawyer, William W. Taylor 3rd.
Lerner was scheduled to appear before the House Oversight committee Wednesday.
According to her lawyer (she has lawyered up) Lerner believes she hasn’t done anything wrong. Even though she ran the office that even the fake-fired commissioner now admits was targeting Americans because of partisan politics.
Taylor, a criminal defense attorney from the Washington firm of Zuckerman Spaeder, said that the Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation, and that the House committee has asked Lerner to explain why she provided “false or misleading information” to the committee four times last year.
Since Lerner won’t answer questions, Taylor asked that she be excused from appearing, saying that would “have no purpose other than to embarrass or burden her.” There was no immediate word whether the committee will grant her request.
Update: According to the National Journal, Issa has subpoenaed Lerner anyway, after her lawyer informed that she will plead the fifth. This sets up Lerner to appear before the committee, as she should, and repeatedly answer straightforward questions with versions of “I cannot answer on the advice of counsel, as my answer may incriminate me.” After fake-fired acting commissioner Miller’s evasions and lies by omission and the White House’s own changing story, Lerner pleading the fifth will give the story some nasty new optics for the Obama White House.