The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday afternoon that Lois Lerner, who heads up the Internal Revenue Service's tax-exempt division, plans to invoke the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in a hearing Wednesday before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Affairs.If she has not committed a crime, what does she know that she is not willing to testify about? Who is she trying to protect?
The Fifth Amendment provides that U.S. citizens may not be compelled to offer testimony if telling the truth would incriminate them.
Lerner's defense lawyer, William W. Taylor III, wrote to the committee on Tuesday that his client would refuse to answer questions related to what she knew about the extra levels of scrutiny applied to conservative nonprofit organizations that applied for tax-exempt status beginning in 2010.
She also will decline to say why she didn’t disclose what she knew to Congress, according to the LA Times.
Lerner 'has not committed any crime or made any misrepresentation,' Taylor's letter read, 'but under the circumstances she has no choice but to take this course.'
He is asking the oversight committee to excuse Lerner from testifying, claiming that calling her in a congressional hearing would 'have no purpose other than to embarrass or burden her' since members would not expect her to answer questions.
She should be called anyway to come before Congress just to get her on the record.