Lerner to be Recalled to Committee, Placed on Administrative Leave

Lois Lerner

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, announced that he would recall Lois Lerner, the embattled director of the IRS’s Tax Exempt Division, to testify on the agency’s discrimination of Tea Party and conservative groups.

Lerner appeared before the committee on Wednesday, but invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself. But before doing so, Lerner made an opening statement in which she declared herself innocent of any wrong-doing. Issa believes that Lerner waived her rights with her opening statement:

Issa said Thursday he had concluded that Lerner waived her rights against self-incrimination when she invoked her Fifth Amendment rights at a Wednesday hearing.

Lerner, who runs an IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups, defended her actions in an opening statement before invoking the Fifth, and Republicans say that meant she had waived her privileges against self-incrimination.
“After consulting with counsel, Chairman Issa has concluded that Ms. Lerner’s 5th Amendment assertion is no longer valid,” Ali Ahmad, a spokesman for Issa, said in a statement Thursday. “She remains under subpoena, the Committee is looking at recalling her for testimony.”

Issa recessed – rather than adjourned – Wednesday’s hearing, which keeps Lerner under the original subpoena.

Whether Lerner will cooperate is another question. As mentioned yesterday, it may be that Issa has to seek immunity to get her to talk openly about the IRS scandal. But being hauled back before the committee isn’t Lerner’s only problem. The National Review reported yesterday that she had been placed on administrative leave after she refused to resign:

Lerner on Thursday afternoon sent an e-mail to employees in the exempt-organizations division she oversees stating, “Due to the events of recent days, I am on administrative leave starting today. An announcement will be made shortly informing you who will be acting while I am on administrative leave. I know all of you will continue to support EO’s mission during these difficult times.” She concluded, “I thank you for all your hard work and dedication,” adding, “The work you do is important.”

The National Review also reports that Lerner was directly involved in the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups. Lerner’s behavior isn’t new. During her time at the Federal Election Committion, Lerner showed bias towards conservative and Republican groups, while giving Democrats a pass.

While she has a right to make her case, Lerner is making herself look worse by the day.

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