On Wednesday, Lois Lerner, the director of the IRS division that targeted conservative groups, invoked the Fifth Amendment when appearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, telling the committee she broke no laws and did nothing wrong, Fox News reported.
“I have not done anything wrong, I have not broken any laws, I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations and I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee,” she said.
“I know that some people will assume I have done something wrong. I have not. One of the basic functions of the Fifth Amendment is to protect innocent individuals, and that is the protection I am invoking today,” she added.
Her attorney, William Taylor III, asked Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., in a letter if she could skip Wednesday’s hearing since she would be pleading the Fifth.
Forcing her to appear, he argued, “would have no purpose other than to embarrass or burden her.”
But the committee said Lerner was still under subpoena and would be required to appear.
“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,” committee spokesman Ali Ahmad said in a statement.
“By invoking the Fifth, Lerner, head of the exempt organizations division, probably won’t answer any questions on what she knew about IRS agents going after Tea Party-related groups. That also means she probably won’t say why she sat on the information for so long before it became public,” Fox said.
Lerner was dismissed for the day after repeatedly invoking her Fifth Amendment rights.
The House committee is set to hear from Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Neal Wolin, among others, Fox said.
The IRS has admitted targeting some 500 conservative organizations seeking a tax-exempt status. Christian organizations have also said they were targeted by the agency. Some groups said the IRS demanded to know the prayers of members in their organizations
On Tuesday, Tea Party activists protested the IRS across the country under the watchful eye of armed DHS agents.
Video of Lerner’s statement can be seen here.
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