IRS honcho Lois Lerner appeared before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today, but she didn’t say anything. Nine months after pleading the Fifth Amendment, Lerner pled the Fifth again.
At that point, Chairman Darrell Issa adjourned the meeting. Sparks flew when Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings became enraged, not at Lerner for refusing to testify, but at Issa for adjourning the meeting. Cummings began delivering an opening statement, but the hearing’s opening statements had been delivered months ago, the first time Lerner refused to testify. He was speaking into dead mics, because the meeting had been adjourned.
Reporters asked Issa whether the committee would hold Lerner in contempt. He replied that that’s a possibility.
Another reporter asked Issa how much of the hearing was purely political, and an enraged Issa heatedly reminded reporters that President Obama was initially outraged by the scandal, but has since declared that there is “not a smidgen of corruption” in it.
“Roads lead to Ms. Lerner,” Issa told reporters. He said that with her testimony, the committee might have been able to bring the investigation to a close. But her refusal, again, sets the investigation back. Issa said that he is looking at what steps to take going forward in the investigation. He rated Lerner’s testimony might have to be forced through a federal judicial decision.
Update: Issa attempted to ask Lerner specific questions about her own emails. He asked Lerner why, in one email, she described the Tea Party cases as “dangerous,” and in another, she specifically said that the IRS Cincinnati office should not have the Tea Party cases. Lerner refused to answer, invoking the Fifth Amendment.
Update: Video of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) launching into a tirade against Issa, and having his mic cut off. Throughout the investigation, Cummings has run interference for the IRS and the Obama administration. Watch video on next page.