Ex-IRS Honcho Takes Fifth at Hearing, Again

Lois Lerner previously refused to answer questions
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2014 12:10 PM CST
Ex-IRS Honcho Takes Fifth at Hearing, Again
Former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois Lerner speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 5, 2014.   (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

The former head of the IRS division that targeted Tea Party groups has once again been brought before Congress—and once again refused to testify, as her lawyer warned would happen. Lois Lerner cited her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination at a hearing today before the House Oversight Committee, the AP reports. Her lawyer says he told committee staff in January that if Lerner was called on to testify, she'd take the Fifth, the Hill reports. Chair Darrell Issa last Tuesday called her to testify all the same.

"I advised the staff that calling Ms. Lerner knowing that she will assert her rights was not only improper but dangerous," Bill Taylor wrote to Issa last Wednesday. "Ms. Lerner has been the subject of numerous threats on her life and safety, and on the life and safety of her family." (The Daily Caller takes Taylor's quote to mean Lerner "fears for her life if she testifies openly.") Meanwhile, congressional emails obtained by Politico suggest the GOP has a theory on why the IRS targeted the Tea Party: Lerner and others feared how nonprofits would behave politically after the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, which removed limits on corporate political donations. The IRS sought to specifically curb Republican donors' power, the communications surmise. Taylor calls the idea "pure fiction." (More Lois Lerner stories.)

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