Lois Lerner, the head of the IRS’s tax-exempt-organizations division, will plead the Fifth in a hearing before the House Oversight Committee tomorrow.
Lerner, who has known of the targeting for two years, will not answer questions before the committee according to a letter from her lawyer to committee Chairman Darrell Issa, reported by the Los Angeles Times.
“She has not committed any crime or made any misrepresentation but under the circumstances she has no choice but to take this course,” said a letter by Taylor to committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, R-Calif. The letter, sent Monday, was obtained Tuesday by the Los Angeles Times.
Taylor, a criminal defense attorney from the Washington firm of Zuckerman Spaeder, said that the Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation, and that the House committee has asked Lerner to explain why she provided “false or misleading information” to the committee four times last year.
Since Lerner won’t answer questions, Taylor asked that she be excused from appearing, saying that would “have no purpose other than to embarrass or burden her.” There was no immediate word whether the committee will grant her request.
It’s hard to see how this helps Lerner’s case at this point. She’s already become the central figure in this scandal, and for good reason. She tried to claim the targeting came after a huge influx of cases following the 2010 Citizens United decision, but it’s been proven that the influx didn’t happen until long after the targeting process began. She claimed she looked into the targeting after hearing about it in the press, but its been proven that she knew about it at least six months, if not more, before the first press rumblings started.
Essentially, Lerner knows she’s in trouble so she decided to plead the Fifth and avoid answering any questions rather than having to lie or contradict herself under oath.
UPDATE: Lerner is still under subpoena, according to Oversight Committee communications director Ali Ahmad, the Washington Post is reporting:
Ahmad said Lerner, the head of the IRS’s tax-exempt organizations division, would still be required to appear before the committee, which means she will have to plead the Fifth in person and on camera.
“Ms. Lerner remains under subpoena from Chairman Issa to appear at tomorrow’s hearing — the committee has a Constitutional obligation to conduct oversight,” Ahmad said. “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.”