An attorney for Lois Lerner said Sunday the former IRS official has not waived her right to refuse to testify before the House Oversight Committee, disputing an assertion the panel’s chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, made on television earlier in the day.
Issa (R-Calif.) said on “Fox News Sunday” Lerner had agreed to answer the committee’s questions about the targeting of political groups by the IRS, after she invoked the Fifth Amendment during a hearing in 2013.
“We have no agreement with the committee and she has not changed her intention to assert her rights not to testify,” Taylor said.
In a letter to the committee last week, Taylor wrote that unless she was granted immunity from prosecution, Lerner would continue to assert her Fifth Amendment rights at the hearing next week. Issa said Sunday the committee had not offered her immunity.
Lerner, the former head of the agency’s tax exempt division, has become a central target for Republicans investigating the targeting of political groups by the IRS. She angered members of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee last year, when she defended herself in an opening statement while testifying but invoked the Fifth Amendment to decline answering questions from lawmakers.
The committee voted that she had waived her rights by delivering a substantive opening statement, but Taylor said she would not answer questions without immunity or a court order to do so.
The committee is recalling her for its hearing on Wednesday, and while Lerner initially sought immunity from prosecution, Issa said on “Fox News Sunday” that she had agreed to answer questions.
“We know what she did in most cases. What we don’t know is why she did it,” Issa said.
A committee spokeswoman, Caitlin Carroll, said Sunday Taylor had “confirmed in writing” that Lerner was willing to testify, but she was requesting a one-week delay.
“We have informed Mr. Taylor that Ms. Lerner may make her request for a delay on Wednesday when she appears for the hearing,” Carroll said.
On Fox, Issa said the committee, which has seen emails to and from Lerner while she was serving, wants to know who she coordinated with, and whether she was under pressure from more senior officials to scrutinize conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.
“Candidly, the American people want to know that it won’t happen again,” Issa said.
President Obama has said there was “not even a smidgeon of corruption” in the IRS, a claim Issa questioned on Sunday.
There was “real evidence that there was wrongdoing, and that wrongdoing was not in Cincinnati but in Washington, D.C.,” Issa said, referring to the field office where much of the activity in question occurred.
— This report was originally published at 10:08 a.m. and last updated at 3:52 p.m.