Lois Lerner, the top IRS official who acknowledged two weeks while “apologizing” to a planted question that the Internal Revenue Service had been targeting conservative groups, has invoked her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, according to a letter obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
From the report:
A top IRS official in the division that reviews nonprofit groups will invoke the Fifth Amendment and refuse to answer questions before a House committee investigating the agency’s improper screening of conservative nonprofit groups.
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 reveal it to Congress, according to a letter from her defense lawyer, William W. Taylor 3rd.
Lerner was scheduled to appear before the House Oversight committee Wednesday.
“She has not committed any crime or made any misrepresentation but under the circumstances she has no choice but to take this course,” Taylor said in a letter addressed to committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, R-Calif.
Her lawyer said that the DOJ 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, the L.A. Times notes.
But because Lerner has decided to remain silent on the subject, her lawyer has asked that she be excused from Wednesday’s hearing because it would “have no purpose other than to embarrass or burden her.”
Rep. Issa was not swayed by the letter and has issued a subpoena to Lerner anyway, according to National Journal.
“The subpoena was delivered after the committee received the letter from Lerner’s attorney,” the report adds.
Lerner discovered in June 2011 that the IRS was targeting groups that used terms like “Tea Party” and “Patriots,” according to the IG’s report.
However, Lerner failed to mention the political intimidation in 2012 when she participated in several Congressional hearings.
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Featured image Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP/IRS.gov. This post has been updated.