Issa, House GOP to recall Lois Lerner

House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is hauling Lois Lerner back to Congress. 

Issa told Lerner’s attorney in a Tuesday letter that he expected the retired IRS official to appear before his committee on March 5. 

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Lerner, the official at the center of the IRS targeting controversy, invoked her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination at a May 2013 hearing, just days after she apologized for the agency’s treatment of Tea Party groups.

But the Oversight Committee later ruled that Lerner waived her rights by making an opening statement, setting the stage for her recall next week. 

In his letter to William Taylor, Lerner's attorney, Issa said that her testimony "remains critical to this committee's investigation."

"Because the committee explicitly rejected her Fifth Amendment privilege claim, I expect her to provide answers when the hearing reconvenes on March 5," Issa wrote.

Taylor told The Hill he would probably respond to Issa on Wednesday. 

Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the top Democrat at House Oversight, said that "only one thing has changed in the nine months since Lois Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right in response to Republican accusations of criminal activity - it's an election year."

"Republicans are wrong on the law, and calling her back will serve no purpose other than causing a media spectacle and feeding a false political narrative."

Cummings and other House Democrats had asked to hold a hearing with constitutional scholars before voting on whether Lerner waived her rights. Democrats have cited experts who said she did not.

Lerner’s attorney has previously denied that she waived her Fifth Amendment rights, and House Democrats have suggested that Republicans rushed into the vote ruling that she had. 

At that vote, held last June, both Democrats and Republicans suggested potentially giving Lerner some form of immunity to answer questions.

Lerner retired from the IRS in September, after previously declining a request from agency brass to resign. She had announced in May – via a planted question at a legal conference – that the IRS had wrongly singled out Tea Party groups. 

In her appearance before Oversight last May, Lerner, the former head of an IRS division overseeing tax-exempt groups, said: "I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations.”

Lerner came under sharp criticism from both Democrats and Republicans for her oversight of the tax-exempt division in the days immediately following her apology.

But any bipartisan cooperation on the IRS quickly ended, and House Republicans are pursuing a measure this week to delay new rules for tax-exempt groups that have been slammed by Democrats and that the White House has threatened to veto.

This story was updated at 9:51 p.m.