House Panel: IRS' Lerner Waived Rights

Republicans demand she return to testify again

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 28, 2013 12:52 PM CDT

(Newser) – Darrell Issa isn't done with Lois Lerner. Lerner, you might recall, is a central figure in the fizzling IRS scandal, who invoked her Fifth Amendment rights when testifying before Issa's House Oversight Committee. But today the committee voted that Lerner had waived her right not to testify by issuing an opening statement first, and hence has to return for another go-around, USA Today reports. The vote was 22-17, along strictly partisan lines.

Issa said the issue was "whether people will come and give one side of the story and not allow themselves to be cross examined." Republican John Mica added, "It's not in the Constitution that there's a fourth branch [of government] that can tell us to go to hell." But Democrats were aghast; one decried Issa's "McCarthyite tactics," while another said he was "trampling on the rights of an American citizen." But the whole fight was probably just for show anyway; even if Lerner returns to testify, she's expected to simply plead the fifth again.

Lois Lerner, head of the IRS unit that decides whether to grant tax-exempt status to groups, listens on Capitol Hill, May 22, 2013, during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing.
Lois Lerner, head of the IRS unit that decides whether to grant tax-exempt status to groups, listens on Capitol Hill, May 22, 2013, during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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