On the eve of his committee’s planned hearing into the IRS targeting scandal, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said Wednesday’s proceedings will continue despite the apparent absence of a key agency witness, who has indicated that she plans to take the Fifth Amendment.
“We’ll go the full length. We will perhaps be one witness shy,” Issa told Fox’s Greta Van Susteren. “We have plenty of questions. We did a full deposition today under oath. We got a lot of information. The information today will lead to questions tomorrow.”
Issa, nevertheless, said lawmakers are hopeful that IRS official Lois Lerner, who oversaw the division accused of targeting tea party and conservative groups for added scrutiny, will choose to appear before the committee.
“Obviously the American people want answers,” said the California Republican. “She’s an important witness and we still hold out hope that she will change her mind. Often, as you know, people don’t always listen to their attorneys.”
Van Susteren, an attorney herself, countered, “If I if were her lawyer, I’d advise her to take the Fifth too because the Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation and there is a risk that she says something tomorrow.”
Issa said that lawmakers will be trying to establish whether the IRS activity was part of widespread wrongdoing or “overzealous IRS individuals” within the agency.
“I think one of the important things is it didn’t just continue in 2011. It continued in 2012. It continued through the election,” he said. “It continues today. As far as we can tell there are organizations that have been out there for three years and have neither been accepted nor rejected — simply tortured — in a way . . . they can’t even appeal a rejection because they haven’t had one.”
Issa added that in his conversations with the Inspector General who investigated the alleged targeting, he believes the agency lacks sufficient internal controls.
“What we know is that in the I.G. report, and in my conversation with the I.G., they don’t have internal controls that would prevent this from happening in the future,” Issa said.
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