Boehner: Hold Lerner in contempt
© Greg Nash

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Wednesday that if former IRS official Lois Lerner does not eventually testify about the agency’s targeting of political groups, Congress should hold her in contempt.

“At some point I believe she has to testify, or I believe she should be held in contempt,” the Speaker told reporters near the Capitol, moments after Lerner again invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid answering questions from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Boehner said he would await a report on the brief hearing from the panel’s chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). Issa adjourned the hearing on Wednesday after Lerner refused to testify.

In a televised interview Sunday, Issa said he had been told by Lerner’s attorney, William Taylor, that she was willing to waive her Fifth Amendment rights and testify, but Taylor later disputed Issa’s assertion.

Lerner, the former head of the IRS’s tax-exempt division, angered lawmakers on the committee last year when she invoked the Fifth Amendment after defending herself in an opening statement. The committee later voted that by addressing IRS activity in her opening statement, she had waived her right to refuse to answer questions.

But in a letter to the committee last week, Taylor said Lerner would only testify if granted immunity or if ordered to do so by a federal judge.