The PJ Tatler

Lerner to Testify on Her Role in IRS Targeting Scandal (UPDATE: Not True?)

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa confirmed on Fox News Sunday that former IRS official Lois Lerner, the center of the targeting scandal, will testify without taking the 5th Amendment at a hearing to be held later this week.

Issa added that she did not receive immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony.

CNN:

Lois Lerner, former director of tax exempt organizations for the IRS, will testify this week on Capitol Hill, Rep. Darrell Issa said Sunday.

Issa said he received word from Lerner’s attorney that she will provide testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about her role in potentially unfair targeting of certain political groups by the IRS.

Issa, chairman of the committee, made the confirmation on “Fox News Sunday.”

Lerner retired last year after being placed on administrative leave by the IRS after she said the IRS applied extra scrutiny to both conservative and liberal political groups seeking tax-exempt status between 2010 and 2012.

She testified before Issa’s committee in May, reading a statement saying she had not broken any laws or regulations, but invoked her Fifth Amendment privileges in refusing to answer questions.

Republicans said Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights by reading that statement.

Issa said Sunday that Lerner was given no immunity ahead of her testimony. He speculated she’s willing to testify now because of mounting evidence against her.

“We’ve interviewed the people all around her to build a case for why she is at the center of this targeting,” Issa said.

On the contrary, Lerner may have agreed to testify because there is no case against her — or, at least a case that the Feds are willing to make. The FBI has already said there was no criminal wrongdoing by the IRS. And does anyone really believe Eric Holder’s Justice Department would indict her?

Issa will continue with his investigation. But unless he has some kind of smoking gun email or a witness who will directly contradict Lerner’s story, the scandal is stuck in neutral. Lerner herself is not expected to be very forthcoming. Expect a lot of “I don’t recall” answers. And the IRS continues to stonewall, impeding the investigation to the best of their ability.

The committee may put as much emphasis in their questioning of Lerner on how the new rules governing political activity by tax exempt organizations were developed as it will on the ins and outs of the targeting scandal. Lerner was closely involved in the initial discussions about those regulations and emails show that she was keenly interested in making previously legal activity, illegal.

UPDATE:

Politico is reporting that Lerner’s attorney is saying that Issa is wrong, that Lerner intends to assert her 5th Amendment rights.

Rep. Darrell Issa doesn’t know what he’s talking about, the attorney for former IRS official Lois Lerner said Sunday.

Issa, the California Republican who chairs the House Oversight and Reform Committee, told “Fox News Sunday” that Lerner, the former head of the IRS tax-exempt division, would testify before his committee Wednesday, which he said he had been told by her attorney.

That attorney, William W. Taylor, said Issa is wrong.

“As of now, she intends to continue to assert her Fifth Amendment rights,” Taylor told POLITICO. “I do not know why Issa said what he said.”

Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment rights not to implicate herself when she appeared before the committee in May 2013, but only after delivering a brief statement defending herself. At the time, Issa and other Republicans said she had waived her Fifth Amendment rights by delivering the statement.