Tuesday afternoon a bombshell was dropped into the already explosive IRS scandal when it was reported that Lois Lerner, a top IRS official in the non-profit division that paralyzed Tea Party groups with ongoing harassment, would invoke the Fifth Amendment and refuse to answer questions during Congressional testimony schedule before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.
The LA Times reports that Lerner will refuse to answer any questions about what she knows about the targeting of conservative groups. She will also refuse to explain why she is refusing to answer questions.
Lerner has retained defense attorney William W. Taylor 3rd, who sent a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee. In the letter Taylor said, “She has not committed any crime or made any misrepresentation but under the circumstances she has no choice but to take this course.”
Taylor is hoping Issa will excuse his client from having to testify in order to save her the embarrassment of having to invoke the Fifth in public. Per The L.A. Times, the committee hasn’t yet answered her request one way or the other.
ADDED: National Journal reports that Issa “has issued a subpoena to Lerner anyway.”
Since the IRS scandal broke wide open ten days ago, Lerner has been at the center of the controversy. She is not only the head of the division that oversaw the Kafka-esque harassment of President Obama’s political foes; she has also been caught on numerous occasions making misleading statements.
Lerner was also part of the fumbled attempt to control how the scandal was made public with a planted question at an American Bar Association meeting. Lerner followed that debacle with a phone call with journalists in which she attempted to downplay the scandal and laughed off the fact she didn’t understand math.
Lerner’s testimony had been widely anticipated. What she knows is considered key to finding out the answer to the one question we still don’t know the answer to: Who okayed this partisan harassment and who participated in it?
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