Issa on IRS Probe: Emails Prove Lerner Will Waive Immunity, Talk

Image: Issa on IRS Probe: Emails Prove Lerner Will Waive Immunity, Talk

Monday, 03 Mar 2014 06:13 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Emails reportedly have "set the record straight," backing up Rep. Darrell Issa's assertion that beleaguered former IRS official Lois Lerner will finally answer questions before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about the agency's targeting of conservative political groups.

The Hill reported that emails between committee staff and an attorney for the retired head of the agency's tax-exempt division were released Monday to prove Issa's statements were correct about her planned testimony — without immunity.

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The California Republican lawmaker is yanking Lerner back before his committee because she previously refused to talk about the IRS' controversial targeting, invoking her Fifth Amendment rights.

Issa told "Fox New Sunday" that Lerner, through her attorney, had agreed to waive the Fifth and talk. She originally had sought immunity in exchange for the testimony.

Lerner's attorney William Taylor then abruptly disputed Issa's claim.

Committee spokesman Frederick Hill told The Hill:

"As a general practice, the Oversight Committee does not disclose discussions with representatives of private citizens about possible public testimony. In the case of Ms. Lerner, correspondence is being made available to set the record straight on offers made by her attorney about her willingness to testify and answer questions without any grant of immunity.”

According to the emails, Taylor and committee attorney Stephen Castor first talked Saturday about Lerner answering questions in a closed-staff deposition, The Hill reported.

“I can tell you that we can probably move forward if the committee agrees that her appearance at a deposition would satisfy any obligation she has or would have to provide information in connection with this investigation,” Taylor wrote.

“For her to take the risk inherent in waiver, she would need assurance she is resolving her issues with the committee.”

Castor had earlier told Taylor that Issa was considering whether a deposition would be enough to avert a public hearing — but that there were no guarantees.

Taylor later responded that there had been “a change in our thinking," and asked Castor to call.

Three hours later, The Hill reported, Castor wrote Taylor: “I understand . . . that Ms. Lerner is willing testify [sic], and she is requesting a one week delay. In talking to the Chairman, wanted to make sure we had this right.”

Taylor replied: “Yes," The Hill reported.

The emails don't elaborate on the conditions under which Lerner will testify.

Issa's committee says Lerner, who has now retired from the IRS, had already waived her Fifth Amendment rights when she gave a statement to the committee last year.

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