February 26, 2014, 11:58 am
Lois Lerner's lawyer slams Issa, GOP
By Bernie Becker
The attorney for Lois Lerner blasted the House GOP for recalling the former IRS official to testify next week, saying it would only serve to embarrass her and could increase threats against Lerner and her family.
Bill Taylor, Lerner’s attorney, told House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) that he told committee staff in January that Lerner would continue to invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if recalled, and that she would "happily testify" if given immunity.
Taylor, of Zuckerman Spaeder, said he heard nothing further from the committee until Issa wrote to him on Tuesday, saying he was hauling Lerner back before the Oversight Committee on March 5.
Lerner is perhaps the IRS official most associated with the agency's targeting controversy, having acknowledged and apologized last year for the extra scrutiny the IRS gave to Tea Party groups.
"I advised the staff that calling Ms. Lerner knowing that she will assert her rights was not only improper but dangerous," Taylor wrote to Issa in a letter dated Wednesday. "Ms. Lerner has been the subject of numerous threats on her life and safety, and on the life and safety of her family. I left with the staff recent evidence of those threats."
Taylor added that it was against D.C. protocol for lawyers to call a witness for the sole reason of having them take the Fifth. "It accomplishes nothing and needlessly embarrasses the witness," he said.
Plus, Taylor reiterated that he disagreed with the Oversight committee ruling that Lerner had waived her Fifth Amendment rights by making an opening statement at a May 2013, hearing.
Issa wrote to Taylor on Tuesday to recall Lerner next week, saying her testimony remained crucial to the investigation into the IRS targeting.
Lerner retired from the agency in September. Democrats have accused the GOP of overreaching and playing election-year politics in recalling her.