Appearing in front of the House Oversight Committee Wednesday morning Lois Lerner, former head of tax exempt groups at the IRS, refused to answer questions asked by lawmakers by pleading the Fifth Amendment. Earlier this week, Lerner’s attorney William Taylor confirmed to Committee members in an email that she would testify. Lerner was issued a subpoena last summer after admitting the IRS singled out conservative groups for extra scrutiny.
“On the advice of my counsel I respectfully exercise my fifth amendment right and decline to answer that question,” Lerner said.
Last year, Lerner was called to testify in front of the same Committee where she also invoked her Fifth Amendment rights after making the statement, “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.” The Committee voted and concluded that because Lerner made a statement before pleading the Fifth, she effectively waived her Fifth Amendment rights.
When asked by Chairman Darrell Issa if she believed there wasn’t a smidgen of corruption inside the IRS when it came to the inappropriate targeting of tea party and conservative groups, Lerner answered, “On the advice of my counsel I respectfully exercise my fifth amendment right and decline to answer that question.”
The Committee hearing was quickly dismissed after Issa put contempt charges for Lerner on the table.
“Ladies and gentlemen, seeking the truth is the duty of this committee and I see no point in moving forward,” Issa said. “We’re adjourned, close it down.”
This post has been updated.