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Lois Lerner: Still taking the 5th?

Lois Lerner: Still taking the 5th?

An attorney for Lois Lerner says the former Internal Revenue Service official still intends to continue to assert her Fifth Amendment rights before the House Oversight committee, despite earlier claims from a top GOP lawmaker Sunday that she would testify this week.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said earlier Sunday that Lerner’s attorney indicated she would testify before his committee Wednesday.

Speaking on FOX News Sunday to host Chris Wallace, Issa said, “[Lerner’s] attorney indicates now that she will testify. We’ve been in back and forth negotiation, but quite frankly, we believe that the evidence we’ve gathered causes her, in her best interest, to be someone who should testify.”

Wallace asked again, “Let me make sure, Lois Lerner, former IRS official who took the Fifth last May, will testify before your committee?”

“According to her attorney,” Issa responded.

Here is video of that earlier exchange (h/t Washington Free Beacon).

But later in the day Sunday, Lerner’s attorney disputed Issa’s claim.

From Politico:

Rep. Darrell Issa doesn’t know what he’s talking about, the attorney for former IRS official Lois Lerner said Sunday.

Issa, the California Republican who chairs the House Oversight and Reform Committee, told “Fox News Sunday” that Lerner, the former head of the IRS tax-exempt division, would testify before his committee Wednesday, which he said he had been told by her attorney.

That attorney, William W. Taylor, said Issa is wrong.

“As of now, she intends to continue to assert her Fifth Amendment rights,” Taylor told POLITICO. “I do not know why Issa said what he said.”

And if you weren’t already confused enough, CBS News adds this:

If it was a case of simple misunderstanding, it hasn’t been resolved. Even after Taylor’s statement, a spokesman for the committee told CBSNews.com that the attorney had “confirmed in writing that Ms. Lerner is willing to testify and she is now requesting a one-week delay for the public hearing. We have informed Mr. Taylor that Ms. Lerner may make her request for a delay on Wednesday when she appears for the hearing.”

Lerner appeared before the committee last May, when she invoked her Fifth Amendment rights after first reading an opening statement claiming she had not broken any laws or violated any regulations.

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“confirmed in writing” vs spokeshole news channel tough guy. Either someone got to her or he’s still bargaining

I hate to sound like a broken record, but when (not if) she gets in front of the microphones and continues to plead the Fifth, what consequences will she realistically face?

My answer: None, other than to be asked the questions again. Moderate Republicans are more than willing to cave on any possible punishment, because they are not fans of the Tea Party either, and they are blind to the fact that they’re next on the IRS list.

It sounds like her attorney is trying to negotiate some immunity before Issa releases her emails.

Invocation of the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination by innocent versus guilty parties has been much discussed lately, and Jazz Shaw reminds us that the Founders “wanted to make sure that the individual who was innocent could not be railroaded by the massive power of the government.” [http://hotair.com/archives/2013/05/25/regarding-lois-lerner-who-does-the-bill-of-rights-protect/]

Lois Lerner IS government, and in her capacity as a government official she violated the rights of Americans. The Congressional hearings into IRS harassment of conservative groups are supposed to be seeking information about government violations of the inalienable rights of its citizens.

When a government official, Lerner in this case, is questioned about what she did in her official role against the American people, how can she hide behind the Fifth Amendment right that protects citizens from government abuse? She is the abuser the Founders warned us about.

Whether Lois Lerner is an innocent or a guilty party invoking the Fifth Amendment is not a relevant question at all. She IS the massive power of the government who was railroading the rights of innocent Americans. I don’t believe that any government official should be able to twist out of having to account for violating the rights of the American people by claiming to be an innocent party who is entitled to Fifth Amendment protection. The Bill of Rights, including the Fifth Amendment, belongs to us, not to government, and it protects private citizens from government apparatchiks like Lois Lerner and her fellow tyrants. How dare she lay claim to OUR right as a means of protecting government (herself) from being held accountable for violating our rights?

I recently came across an old collection of mystery stories anthologized in 1929. One story, first published in 1916, makes my point most effectively. “Naboth’s Vineyard” is a gripping tale of a murder trial by Melville Davisson Post, and it has been ranked among the top ten crime stories. The principle that government officials are accountable to We the People is a key point in the story. I want to quote several passages here, as I believe LI writers will instantly understand their applicability to Lois Lerner and her ilk. (I don’t know how to set block quotes in a comment, so I have marked the beginning and end of each quoted extract with asterisks. The final quote is my message to Lerner, if you would prefer to skip ahead.) The story opens as follows:
*****
“One hears a good deal about the sovereignty of the people in this republic; and many persons imagine it a sort of fiction, and wonder where it lies, who are the guardians of it, and how they would exercise it if the forms and agents of the law were removed. I am not one of those who speculate upon this mystery, for I have seen its primal ultimate authority naked at its work. And, having seen it, I know how mighty and how dread a thing it is. And I know where it lies, and who are the guardians of it, and how they exercise it when the need arises.”
*****

At the end of the trial and just before the jury begins their deliberations, the defendant is facing certain conviction for murder. His sweetheart arises in court and confesses that she is the murderer, making a convincing case that clears the man. These two innocent parties have each sacrificed themselves to protect the other. However, Uncle Abner (the hero of 22 Post stories) has discovered that the real killer is actually the judge who is hearing the murder trial. Uncle Abner stands up in the courtroom and calls for the judge to step down from the bench and for the people in the courtroom to stand up and demonstrate their lawful authority:
*****
“The authority of the law,” he says, “is in the hands of the electors of this county. Will they stand up?”
I shall never forget what happened then, for I have never in my life seen anything so deliberate and impressive. Slowly, in silence, and without passion, as though they were in a church of God, men began to get up in the courtroom.
*****

The narrator (Uncle Abner’s nephew) then names each of the men and describes their various positions in the town, truly a cross-section of local society. The Judge erupts in fury, proclaims himself to be the representative of the law, and commands the sheriff to clear the court. The sheriff refuses, demonstrating an understanding of the relationship between the people and the state that few Americans today would recognize:
*****
“I would obey the representative of the law,” he said, “if I were not in the presence of the law itself.”
*****

Moving forward in the story a bit, we come to the key statement that I want to share with you. The oldest man in town speaks directly to the judge, who has challenged the right of the people to hold him to account. This is what I believe we should all, boldly and without compromise, say to all the Lois Lerners who have packed our government offices, every bureaucrat who abuses our freedoms, every elected official who turns to tyranny of any degree, every law enforcement officer who treats us with contempt — everyone on the public payroll who claims a right to be unaccountable to us, whether by hiding behind sovereign immunity or the Fifth Amendment:
*****
“We are not concerned,” he said, “at this moment with your rights as a citizen; the rights of private citizenship are inviolate, and they remain to you, when you return to it. But you are not a private citizen. You are our agent. We have selected you to administer the law for us, and your right to act has been challenged. Well, as the authority behind you, we appear and would know the reason.”
*****

Bang, zoom. Right on target. I have not seen this distinction between the rights of private citizens and public agents discussed in terms of Lois Lerner and her Fifth Amendment claim. The source I found that supports my opinion is from a book of popular fiction published a century ago. Is my opinion a century out of date, or does Uncle Abner’s teaching still apply?

Post’s book “Uncle Abner: Master of Mysteries,” which includes 18 stories, can be read online at Google Books. The following link will take you to Naboth’s Vineyard, which is the final story in the book:
http://tinyurl.com/qh2x5ag
Scroll up to read all of the stories in this highly praised collection of crime stories.

    DaveGinOly in reply to J Motes. | March 2, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Although I understand your argument, she is both a former govt. employee AND a private citizen who could face a criminal prosection based on her own testimony. Unless she knowing gave up her right to remain silent as a condition of employment, she retains the right.

    Maybe it’s time to make the surrender of Fifth Amendment rights a prerequisite government employment. All new hires, and all current employees who promote, must, in order to be hired or to promote, surrender the right.

      stevewhitemd in reply to DaveGinOly. | March 2, 2014 at 10:18 pm

      Let us not do that. I’m not comfortable with demanding that people surrender their constitutional rights just to find work. That’s the sort of trick the Left could use against a lot of us out there.

      Ms. Lerner has a right against self-incrimination. If I’m on the House committee, I’ll respect that — after I again have her invoke it, loudly and repeatedly.

      I don’t think it’s necessary to ask her to give up her right against self-incrimination when she accepts federal government employment: she has already sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution. By defending the rights of one partisan group over another, she has violated that oath.

Henry Hawkins | March 2, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Just announced that Lerner’s hearing appearance is back on.

Doesn’t look like the Republican pols really want to bother the Dem wrong doers.

She has the same rights as any other citizen and cannot be compelled to offer testimony that potentially could be used against her, PERIOD.

She’d be nuts to testify without immunity, since her actions are clearly at least borderline in the most charitable view. Also, Lerner was doing the same sort of targeting when she was at FEC, and it seems that background is why she was moved to IRS in the first place.

But no immunity for her unless she can pin it on a higher-up with direct and verifiable testimony. She may have been the mastermind, just following her natural totalitarian inclinations when Obama and other top Democrats were complaining about Citizens United.

healthguyfsu | March 2, 2014 at 11:57 pm

Whatever happened to the act of the prepared statement nullifying her fifth amendment rights? It was my understanding that you don’t get a chance to speak plea to your innocence and then take the fifth.

    There is where my mind went. Will she get to make another statement prior to pleading the 5th? Is it worth holding her in contempt to force a judgement on pre-5th statements for the future? Is there already case law on the subject?

Notice for all his bluster, that Darrell Issa never actually accomplishes anything?

Just another RINO sellout I think, talking the game while the crap continues. He should have let Trey Gowdy gone to town on her after her initial opening statement, “I have done nothing wrong….” But then assert her 5th after she began to testify.

What crock this whole sham is. I saw if there is any incumbent with over 2 terms, then it’s time to forcibly retire them.

    Paul in reply to Paul. | March 3, 2014 at 3:57 am

    Dyslexia anyone? I say he should have let Trey Gowdy go* to town on her statements….

    I also say* if there is any incumbent with over 2 terms, then it’s time to forcibly retire them.

She will refuse to answer.
Issa will have to find her in contempt or do nothing.

$100 says he does nothing.

I have it on the highest authority within our government that there isn’t a “smidgen of corruption” at the IRS. /snark

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