House panel to vote on whether IRS official waived her rights

The House Oversight Committee will vote Friday on whether an IRS official central to the agency’s targeting of conservative groups waived her Fifth Amendment rights before the committee last month.

Lois Lerner, the agency official who disclosed the targeting on May 10, denied any wrongdoing in a May 22 opening statement, while also invoking her rights against self-incrimination.

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But GOP lawmakers on the panel — including Rep. Trey Gowdy (S.C.), a former prosecutor — said that Lerner’s statement acted as a waiver of those rights.

Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) allowed Lerner to leave, but committee Republicans have since said that the chairman also believes Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights. If the panel votes that Lerner did waive her rights, she could be brought back for more questioning. 

Issa also recessed that May 22 hearing, instead of adjourning it, which would allow him to haul Lerner back under the original subpoena.

Congress is continuing its investigation into the IRS’s treatment of conservative groups. But top Democrats are also brandishing new evidence from the IRS that suggests liberal groups were singled out for extra attention as well.

Danny Werfel, who took over at the IRS after the controversy broke, is scheduled to testify before the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday. Werfel had asked Lerner to resign shortly after he took over, but Lerner declined and was placed on administrative leave.