Lois Lerner to House: Holding Me in Contempt Is 'Un-American'

Image: Lois Lerner to House: Holding Me in Contempt Is 'Un-American'

Monday, 28 Apr 2014 09:39 PM

By Cathy Burke

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The retired IRS official at the center of the tea-party targeting scandal wants a chance to convince House lawmakers it would be "un-American" to hold her in contempt of Congress.

In a letter to congressional leaders Monday, published by the Wall Street Journal, an attorney for retired IRS official Lois Lerner asked for a chance to plead her case against a planned House vote, despite her refusal twice to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

"Holding Ms. Lerner in contempt would not only be unfair and, indeed, un-American, it would be flatly inconsistent with the Fifth Amendment as interpreted by the Supreme Court," the letter from William Taylor III to House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor argued.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee earlier this month voted to hold Lerner in contempt; a vote in the full House is set for next month.

Lerner last year went before the committee, chaired by California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, gave an opening statement, then claimed her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination before being excused. The committee later voted that Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights with that opening statement.

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She went back before the committee last month, repeating her right under the Fifth Amendment.

Taylor argued in his letter, "the law is clear that she did not waive her Fifth Amendment privilege by proclaiming her innocence," adding, "the committee did not satisfy the minimum procedural requirements for holding her in contempt, because it did not order her to answer any questions."

Issa's committee also was angry Lerner gave an interview to the Justice Department about the matter.

Taylor also argued in the letter that the House has used faulty procedures so far in its effort to hold Lerner in contempt, and asked for "an opportunity to present to the House the reasons why it should not hold Ms. Lerner in contempt."

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