Internal Revenue Service Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner was sworn in today before her testifying to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in Washington, DC. Lois Lerner then read a statement to the House Oversight Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA). “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,” Lois Lerner said in her opening statement before the Oversight Committee.
With that, Lois Lerner continued and said that she had little choice but to plead the fifth amendment. “I would very much like to answer the committee’s questions today, I’ve been advised by my counsel to assert my constitutional right not to testify or answer questions related to the subject matter of this hearing.”
Conintuing, Lois Lerner said in her statement, “After very careful consideration, I have decided to follow my counsel’s advice and not testify or answer any of the questions today. Because I’m asserting my right not to testify, I know that some people will assume that I’ve 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’m invoking today. Thank you.”
That caused a short fury within the committee as Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) vigorously objected, saying Lerner waived her right to invoke the Fifth Amendment by making an opening statement. “She ought to stay here and answer our questions.”
However, Chairman Darrell Issa had little choice but to excuse Lois Lerner anyway “subject to recall” if the committee determines she did not properly invoke her right. He added that he might consult with the Justice Department about giving Lerner “limited immunity” to testify.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is investigating allegations that the IRS targeted conservative non-profit organizations with the words ‘tea party’ and ‘constitution’ in their names for additional scrutiny. Lerner asserted her constitutional right not to answer questions. However, there is an open legal question as to whether an opening statement negates the invocation of the fifth amendment.
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John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African-American studies, published by The Elevator Group Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers did it. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books. John has volunteered for many political campaigns.