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IRS Official Lois Lerner to plead the 5th – Update: Statement from Issa’s Office

IRS Official Lois Lerner to plead the 5th – Update: Statement from Issa’s Office

Lois Lerner, the IRS head of exempt organizations division, will invoke the fifth amendment this week rather than answer questions about the recent IRS scandal, according to a letter sent to Congress by her attorney.

Lerner was scheduled to answer questions from the House Oversight committee this Wednesday.

According to the LA Times, which obtained the letter Tuesday, Lerner’s attorney, William W. Taylor 3rd, wrote to committee chairman Darrell Issa to request that Lerner be excused from appearing before the committee.  Taylor explained that with the criminal investigation launched by the Department of Justice, Lerner’s appearance would have no purpose other than to “embarrass or burden her.”

“She has not committed any crime or made any misrepresentation but under the circumstances she has no choice but to take this course,” said a letter by Taylor to committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, R-Calif. The letter, sent Monday, was obtained Tuesday by the Los Angeles Times. […]

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.

More to follow.

UPDATE 4:20pm EST:  Issa has issued a subpoena to Lerner anyway.

UPDATE 5:00pm EST:  Ali Ahmad, Communications Adviser for the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, provided the following statement to Legal Insurrection:

The Committee has been contacted by Ms. Lerner’s lawyer who stated that his client intended to invoke her 5th amendment right and refuse to answer questions.  Ms. Lerner remains under subpoena from Chairman Issa to appear at tomorrow’s hearing — the Committee has a Constitutional obligation to conduct oversight. Chairman Issa remains hopeful that she will ultimately decide to testify tomorrow about her knowledge of outrageous IRS targeting of Americans for their political beliefs.


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They damn well better not excuse her from any testimony. Let her publicly choose what she thinks might be self incriminating.

Start with simple questions like “are you legally responsible for IRS correspondence that bears your signature?”

    legalizehazing in reply to ThomasD. | May 21, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    because outside of politics that’s how the world works… rules. You know. You enforce them.

boricuafudd | May 21, 2013 at 4:20 pm

How do you embarrass someone who has done a good job of on her own. If her comment, ” I’m not good at math” is any indication pleading the 5th is advisable.

The Fifth is not a way of avoiding that which is purely embarrassing, inconvenient, or politically damaging. It is supposed to be about criminality and only those things that are potentially criminal.

There should be plenty of issues and areas of testimony that only involve questions of good government.

Unless the corruption is that widespread and pervasive.

The questioning needs to be done in a way that draws this distinction loud and clear.

    Estragon in reply to ThomasD. | May 22, 2013 at 5:03 am

    The 5th doesn’t mean you don’t have to answer questions about criminal activity, it says you cannot “… be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against [your]self …”

    So the question instead is, “Can the testimony offered in response to a ‘non-criminal’ question be used against the witness in a criminal case?”

    The answer being that it can, the witness is entitled to refuse to answer any question.

It wouldn’t be as entertaining as this person taking it, but who knows, watching perp walked is something to be hoped for.

[…] officials at the center of the scandal involving the targeting of conservative groups, is going to plead the fifth rather than answer to Congress for the actions of the unit she oversaw. It’s one thing to lie […]

Trash the Constitution, then hide behind the Constitution? Have they “discovered” a new interpretation of the Constitution, one that says Constitutional rights only exist for government officials, or one saying these rights are only afforded to those who defend the President?

Just saying…

    theduchessofkitty in reply to DocWahala. | May 21, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    “Trash the Constitution, then hide behind the Constitution?”

    I was just going to say the same thing!

Who knows? She might end up pleading the Seventh…or the Ninth. She’s not good at math.

2nd Ammendment Mother | May 21, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Man – if I were in Congress knowing her plans ahead of time – I’d be writing up some very interesting questions for her to plead the 5th to….

Raise your hand if you think the IRS would excuse the average citizen from being embarrassed for planning to not cooperate with their questions? I think those are called “raids” with all media outlets present and you in handcuffs being hauled off to jail.

Just an interesting bit for anyone who wants to pursue it. There is a freshman Rep named Beto O’ Rourke. His mom got hit big time in by Treasury for accepting cash payments from her business customers and I think some IRS reporting problems – that was a major media raid event and perp walk one afternoon.

theduchessofkitty | May 21, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Remember Mark Furhman. He pleaded the Fifth on the OJ trial, thereby throwing the prosecution’s case to the wolves.

I never quite understood it. Your silence in it only guarantees, it seems, that everyone knows you did it, even though you don’t say a peep and hide behind lawyers like a naughty kid hiding behind mamma’s skirt.

is it just me but does it seem as though obama is having a horrible ..awful ….terrible bad second term so far

Hey, I’m all for shaming the heck out of these criminals! The more embarrassment for them the better. Keep her in front of them for 6 hours at a minimum. Then initiate contempt of Congress proceedings…..

Absolutely make her testify. Ask her the questions, and have her go on record pleading the 5th.

Conservative Beaner | May 21, 2013 at 5:36 pm

If you are a public official you should answer to Congress who represent the American people and we demand answers this corruption. If Lerner doesn’t want to testify then she should be put on unpaid leave until she is willing to answer Issa’s questions.

Henry Hawkins | May 21, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Lerner to take the 5th, eh? Well, at least one Obama administration official is helping to restore our Bill of Rights.

[…] “Issa has issued a subpoena to Lerner anyway.” Oh the […]

legalizehazing | May 21, 2013 at 5:44 pm

The least should could do was offer a statement to ease the justified fears. She is in charge of impliment obamacare afterall

I’d love to see Sen. Ted Cruz ask a few questions. And why hasn’t anyone gone after Ingram?

[…] to Legal Insurrection, Issa has issued a subpoena duces tecum to Lerner to appear […]


Candidates: the OBOZO regime with taxpayer money, or the IRS (d-cRAT supporting) union (using taxpayer money funneled through employee dues)?

Of course, the difference between these two is – for all practical purposes – indistinguishable.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Lener made history again by become the FIRST REPROBATE EVER to be fired from the federal bureaucracy. (Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen. It’s MORE LIKELY she’ll get a promotion and another bonus.)

[…] Lerner is relying on the constitutional protections Barack Obama has been systematically destroying. Lerner wants to be excused from testifying before the House Oversight and Reform Committee […]

If the Committee believes that there are higher ups that she can finger, I believe that the correct strategy is to call her, find out what she pleads the 5th too, and then immunize her and call her back. Once she is immunized, she can no longer plead the 5th. “I can’t recall” and “I don’t know” are not grounds for having pleaded the 5th in the first place, so if she
answers that way or refuses to answer, then she is on contempt of Congress.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to ManekiNeko. | May 21, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    Contempt of congress. Wow. You mean just like our Attorney General and D0J chief? Tough stuff, that. Look how it’s shut Holder down.

huskers-for-palin | May 21, 2013 at 6:49 pm

Videotape her responses then use it for 2014 political ads.

The thing is that we all know a Justice Department investigation would just be a whitewash unless an Independent Prosecutor is appointed. The fox (Eric Holder) is a co-conspirator.

They should offer her IMMUNITY and then force her to testify, er, sing like a bird – and if it is found out later that she committed perjury, throw her in jail.

Testify? I doubt she’ll even show up. She’s been through the Eric Holder School of Obstructionism.

I mean, what happens if she doesn’t show up? Will the same guys who blinked when Holder defied them send the cops out to get her?

This is ludicrous.

Henry Hawkins | May 21, 2013 at 8:36 pm

The existence of a DoJ is not mandated by the Constitution. Let’s simply shut it down now and rebuild it in.. oh.. 2016.

[…] officials at the center of the scandal involving the targeting of conservative groups, is going to plead the fifth rather than answer to Congress for the actions of the unit she oversaw. It’s one thing to lie to […] | May 21, 2013 at 11:38 pm

The first question to Lerner should be: Did anyone in the Obama administration tell you to lie or otherwise mislead?

[…] Review,New York Times, CNN, Scared Monkeys,, The Jawa Report, News Desk,Le·gal In·sur·rec· tion, The PJ Tatler, Right Turn, The Daily Caller, Belmont Club, Yahoo! News, The Gateway […]

[…] IRS Official Lois Lerner to plead the 5th ( […]


I believe every indication is that crimes were committed and that Lerner was complicit in an active way in the commission.

However, it seems to me only reasonable for her attorney, knowing she is a target or potential target of current or future investigations into crimes related to her actions, to insist she not answer any darned question.

There are many ways even an innocent person could implicate themselves or give potentially damaging evidence against themselves, but the bottom line is there is nothing she could say that would help her in any way regarding those potential charges.

If Congress wants her testimony, talk to her lawyer about what it might be, and offer her immunity (get some sort of proffer in writing of course). The only possible leverage on Holder to appoint a special prosecutor begins when people start getting immunity to give a bigger fish. It’s the one thing that tops the White House nod-and-wink that silences the whistle-blowers.

Embarrassing her by making her take the 5th repeatedly is a theatrical tactic, but against the recent tradition of Congress and unlikely to lead to the mastermind of this scheme.

    EllisWyatt in reply to Estragon. | May 22, 2013 at 8:57 am

    You have a good point here. We have to get Obama and the other high-level members of the cabal.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to Estragon. | May 22, 2013 at 9:47 am

    “Embarrassing her by making her take the 5th repeatedly is a theatrical tactic, but against the recent tradition of Congress and unlikely to lead to the mastermind of this scheme.”

    ‘Making’ her take the 5th? Um, I do believe that’s entirely within her domain. No one can be made to take the 5th.

    You can’t know she’ll ‘take the 5th repeatedly’ without repeatedly asking questions to see. The alternative is to not question anyone who says in advance that they’ll take the 5th if subpoenaed, which would end any and all inquiries forever, since everybody would threaten to take the 5th if doing so killed subpoenas or precluded even being questioned.

    That an action causes embarrassment or ends up no more than a theatrical effort doesn’t mean those results were the goal. Bottom line – you can’t know what you’ll get from questioning unless and until you actually question someone. That she’ll be handing her political opponents a long series of damning video snippets for use in campaign ads in 2014 and 2016 is part of the calculation on whether to take the 5th.

    The road to the masterminds begins in the trenches. You identify, trap, and turn the little guys all the way up the chain.