FLASH: ISSA TO SUBPOENA LOIS LERNER BACK TO COMMITTEE... 'Waived Her Fifth Amendment Rights' By Giving Opening Statement...
May 22, 2013
(Politico) -- House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said embattled IRS official Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights and will be hauled back to appear before his panel again.
The California Republican said Lerner’s Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination was voided when she gave an opening statement this morning denying any wrongdoing and professing pride in her government service.
“When I asked her her questions from the very beginning, I did so so she could assert her rights prior to any statement,” Issa told POLITICO. “She chose not to do so — so she waived.”
Lerner triggered the IRS scandal on May 10 when she acknowledged that the agency wrongly targeted conservative groups applying for a tax exemption. Her lawyer told the House committee earlier this week that she would exercise her Fifth Amendment.
She appeared before Issa’s committee this morning under the order of a subpoena and surprised many by reading a strong statement to the panel.
“I have not done anything wrong,” she said. “I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other committee.”
Issa dismissed her from the committee room once it became clear she wouldn’t answer questions.
Lerner’s decision to speak at all immediately triggered a dust-up among lawmakers who were confused about whether she gave up her Fifth Amendment protections when she made an opening statement.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), a former federal prosecutor, said Lerner lost her rights the minute she started proclaiming her innocence, and that lawmakers therefore were entitled to question her. But Ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings of Maryland said hearing rules were not like those of a courtroom.
During the incident, Issa did not flat-out say whether or not Lerner had indeed waived her rights but instead tried to coax her into staying by offering to narrow the scope of questions.
By the afternoon, Issa was taking a harder stand.
“The precedents are clear that this is not something you can turn on and turn off,” he told POLITICO. “She made testimony after she was sworn in, asserted her innocence in a number of areas, even answered questions asserting that a document was true … So she gave partial testimony and then tried to revoke that.”
He said he was not expecting that.
“I understand from her counsel that there was a plan to assert her Fifth Amendment rights,” he continued. “She went ahead and made a statement, so counsel let her effectively under the precedent, waive — so we now have someone who no longer has that ability.” Read more via Politico...