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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