House Panel to Rule on Lerner's Fifth Amendment Rights

Image: House Panel to Rule on Lerner's Fifth Amendment Rights

Wednesday, 26 Jun 2013 10:46 AM

By Lisa Barron

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The House Oversight Committee is to vote Friday on whether IRS official Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights last month by making a brief statement to the committee declaring her innocence in the Internal Revenue Service targeting controversy.

Lerner disclosed the agency's practice of requesting additional information from conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt status on May 10, but in committee testimony on May 22 she denied any wrongdoing before invoking her rights against self-incrimination.

Committee Chairman Darrell Issa permitted Lerner to leave after invoking her Fifth Amendment rights, but some panel members have said he believes she actually waived them by first declaring, even if briefly, that she had done nothing wrong.

Other Republicans on the panel, including Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, a former prosecutor, also say that Lerner's statement was a waiver of her rights.

Depending on how the vote on what constitutes a declaration of the Fifth Amendment goes, Lerner could be brought back before the committee for further questioning.

Danny Werfel, acting IRS commissioner, is to testify before the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday about the targeting controversy. Last month, Lerner refused Werfel's request to resign and was placed on administrative leave with pay.

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