Issa: Ex-IRS Official Lerner Still Must Testify on Targeting

Wednesday, 26 Feb 2014 07:59 AM

By Joe Schaeffer

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House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa is recalling for more testimony the retired IRS official at the center of the agency’s targeting of conservative groups.

The California Republican notified Lois Lerner’s attorney in a letter Tuesday that she is expected to appear before his committee on March 5, The Hill reports.

Lerner oversaw the IRS division that reviews and approves applications for tax-exempt status when the IRS reportedly was putting conservative and tea party groups seeking non-profit status through a more stringent and strenuous process than other groups.

In an electric May 22, 2013, hearing, Lerner said she did nothing wrong and then invoked her Fifth Amendment right to avoid incriminating herself.

In July, the committee passed a resolution declaring that Lerner had waived her Fifth Amendment right that day when she delivered the statement denying wrongdoing before refusing to answer questions that could incriminate her.

Issa’s letter to Lerner’s attorney, William Taylor, said her testimony "remains critical to this committee's investigation."

"Because the committee explicitly rejected her Fifth Amendment privilege claim, I expect her to provide answers when the hearing reconvenes on March 5," Issa wrote, The Hill reports.

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, top Democrat on the committee, said that "only one thing has changed in the nine months since Lois Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right in response to Republican accusations of criminal activity: it's an election year."

"Republicans are wrong on the law, and calling her back will serve no purpose other than causing a media spectacle and feeding a false political narrative," Cummings said, according to The Hill.

Lerner retired from the IRS in September. At that time, Issa said the committee would still most likely need her to testify.

Lerner's retirement "does not alter the Oversight Committee's interest in understanding why applicants for tax-exempt status were targeted and inappropriately treated because of their political beliefs," Issa said.

"Her departure does not answer these questions or diminish the committee's interest in hearing her testimony," he said.

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