The House Oversight Committee approved contempt charges on a 21 to 12 party line vote Thursday against former IRS official Lois Lerner, moving the contempt resolution to the full House.
The Hill reported:
Republicans have ruled that Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights by proclaiming her innocence in a May 2013 opening statement before Oversight, and say that she can fill many of the holes left in the committee’s investigation into the IRS’s scrutiny of groups seeking tax-exempt status.
It would be irresponsible for the committee not to vigorously pursue her testimony,” Issa said in his opening statement.
Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), one of Lerner’s most strident critics, added that Republicans needed to march forward because investigations like the Justice Department’s were “a complete joke.”
Rep. Trey Gowdy (S.C.) and other GOP lawmakers also left no doubt that they thought Lerner had lost Fifth Amendment protections, with Gowdy saying the now-retired IRS official had made 17 different factual statements during her first appearance before the panel.
Democrats, meanwhile, took pains to stress that they weren’t defending Lerner or her performance as chief of an IRS division overseeing tax-exempt groups, just her constitutional rights.
One Democrat after another, starting with Rep Cummings compared the contempt vote to McCarthyism because Senator Joe McCarthy once held someone in contempt, too.
“I cannot cast a vote that would place me on the same page of the history books as Senator Joseph McCarthy,” Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., said. “I do not draw that comparison lightly.”