This should be interesting. Next week the House Oversight Committee will hold a vote on holding former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress. Lerner has been called before Congress to testify about the extra scrutiny conservative groups received when applying for tax exempt status. Both times she invoked the 5th amendment. Breitbart News reports that the vote will take place on April 10, and provides some more background.
Rep. Issa and other Republicans on the Committee have maintained that Lerner waived her right not to testify when, during her first appearance before the Committee back in 2013, she made a speech proclaiming her innocence before asserting the 5th. The Committee subsequently met (June 2013) and voted that she had in fact waived her right not to testify.
The Committee issued a staff report last month focused on Lerner’s involvement in the scandal and making a detailed case that she had improperly asserted her 5th amendment right not to testify. Democrats led by Rep. Elijah Cummings issued a letter responding to the report with a legal opinion suggesting that Lerner had not been properly notified she could be held in contempt. Rep. Issa responded with his own letter rejecting Cummings conclusion and saying he was behaving as if he were Lerner’s defense attorney.
Since then the House Office of General Counsel weighed in on Issa’s side of the argument. In a 22-page memo dated March 25th, they conclude “it is this Office’s considered opinion that Mr. Rosenberg [Rep. Cummings’ attorney] is wrong in concluding that ‘the requisite legal foundation for a criminal contempt of Congress prosecution [of Ms. Lerner…ha[s] not been met…’.”
In announcing the vote, Rep. Issa, who chairs the Oversight Committee, said “Ms. Lerner’s involvement in wrongdoing and refusal to meet her legal obligations has left the Committee with no alternative but to consider a contempt finding.” (Read More)