Lois Lerner, the IRS director of tax exempt groups, said she did nothing wrong in her opening statement before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, before pleading the Fifth and refusing to answer any questions.
Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) asked her to reconsider her decision based on the fact that she offered testimony in her opening statement and confirmed her previous answers to other questions to appear on the record of the hearing.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) interrupted, saying that the hearing room should be treated like a courtroom, and that Lerner had already waived her rights by testifying before the committee. “She waived her right to Fifth Amendment privilege. She ought to stay here and answer our questions,” he said. He compared her actions to a a witness offering testimony in a courtroom but not being subject to cross-examination, which is prohibited.
The committee eventually determined that Lerner was not subject to courtroom rules. Issa dismissed her, but the dismissal was subject to recall if it was determined she had indeed waived her Fifth Amendment rights.