Lois Lerner to plead the Fifth Wednesday before Issa Committee
We can now officially call the Obama administration besieged. One of President Obama's underlings is set to plead her Fifth Amendment Right against self-incrimination in the burgeoning IRS scandal. The Los Angeles Times broke the story:
Lois Lerner, the head of the exempt organizations division of the IRS, won't answer questions about what she knew about the improper screening - or why she didn't disclose it to Congress, according to a letter from her defense lawyer, William W. Taylor III. Lerner was scheduled to appear before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.
"She has not committed any crime or made any misrepresentation but under the circumstances she has no choice but to take this course," said a letter by Taylor to committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Vista). The letter, sent Monday, was obtained Tuesday by the Los Angeles Times.
Taylor, a criminal defense attorney from the Washington firm Zuckerman Spaeder, said that the Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation, and that the House committee has asked Lerner to explain why she provided "false or misleading information" to the committee four times last year.
Committee Chairman Darrel Issa has gone ahead and issued a subpoena for Lerner, so she will offer the nation vivid evidence that something is up, possibly criminal, with the IRS targeting of Tea Party organizations. It will be great political theatre to see her questioned about who suggested she set up a question so she could disclose the IRS scandal at an ABA meeting on taxation, in the form of an apology to a question and all the other conflicting stories.
Ali Ahmad, communications adviser for the Committee provided this statement: (hat tip: Legal Insurrection)
The Committee has been contacted by Ms. Lerner's lawyer who stated that his client intended to invoke her 5th amendment right and refuse to answer questions. Ms. Lerner remains under subpoena from Chairman Issa to appear at tomorrow's hearing - the Committee has a Constitutional obligation to conduct oversight. Chairman Issa remains hopeful that she will ultimately decide to testify tomorrow about her knowledge of outrageous IRS targeting of Americans for their political beliefs.
This isn't a court of law, but rather the court of public opinion, and a pleading of the Fifth looks incriminating. Lerner no doubt is following sound legal advice, but her troubles are far from over.
The big question is who orchestrated this operation? That will take some digging, perhaps some time in front of a grand jury, or maybe some immunized testiumony here and there, as we patiently pull the threads out of a cloth of corruption that most definitely had a weaver.