Lois Lerner To Plead 5th At IRS Hearing

As Ace points out, the LA Times originally buried their own scoop way down on the page. They’ve moved it up near the top as of my looking at it, and is now showing on the National page of their Droid app

A top IRS official in the division that reviews nonprofit groups will invoke the 5th Amendment and refuse to answer questions before a House committee investigating the agency’s improper screening of conservative nonprofit groups.

Lois Lerner, the head of the exempt organizations division of the IRS, won’t answer questions about what she knew about the improper screening — or why she didn’t disclose it to Congress, according to a letter from her defense lawyer, William W. Taylor III. Lerner was scheduled to appear before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.

“She has not committed any crime or made any misrepresentation but under the circumstances she has no choice but to take this course,” said a letter by Taylor to committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Vista). The letter, sent Monday, was obtained Tuesday by the Los Angeles Times.

Perhaps not, but as a government official with Power she should provide details as to exactly what happened, and why she failed to disclose these details to Congress before, which, unless I miss my guess, is considered “lying to Congress”, obstruction, and perhaps a few other charges.

Meanwhile, her lawyer is saying “hey, since she’s pleading the 5th, there’s really no point in Congress having her testify, so, why bother?” Somehow, I doubt Darrell Issa is going to let her go get ice cream.

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17 Responses to “Lois Lerner To Plead 5th At IRS Hearing”

  1. Dana says:

    She’s really looking for immunity.

  2. eeyore says:

    Any bureaucrat or government official can take the 5th when testifying, but they should automatically lose their jobs and resign if they do. They are paid by the citizens and work for the citizens. If they don’t answer questions from the citizens’ representatives or courts about what they do, they shouldn’t have a job.

  3. gitarcarver says:

    If they don’t answer questions from the citizens’ representatives or courts about what they do, they shouldn’t have a job.

    While I understand the sentiment, I can’t go with the idea that someone loses their rights just because they work for the government. I would no more support this than saying a person who works for the government can automatically have their homes searched without a warrant or cannot express an opinion away from the job.

    What troubles me about the Lerner situation is one has to wonder what charge, allegation or criminal activity is she worried about.

    I believe Issa and the House are looking at her for lying to Congress, but that means that any other thing such as who ordered what is fair gain.

    I would also argue that a judge needs to evaluate her 5th Amendment claim. She cannot make the claim just to avoid giving embarrassing testimony. The claim has to be tied to an actual crime.

    I would not trust Congress to ever make that determination, but I would think a judge could (and in my opinion, should.)

    It should be an interesting hearing to watch.

  4. Lightwave says:

    The remainder of this administration can now be measured in months. If Lerner goes on national TV and pleads the 5th several dozen times, it’s over. That’s the footage that will move those approval ratings numbers, and they will plummet.

    By July 4th I expect Obamee to be in the 30’s and falling. When we go from talk to impeachment to talk of resignation, then you know the game is over.

    That point is coming soon.

  5. She did plead, and looked pretty bad doing it. She goes up and makes her statement, which, as one Congressman pointed out, was waiving her 5th protection, at least in a court of law.

    She should expect to be brought back up to The Hill, and probably expect criminal charges at some point.

  6. gitarcarver says:

    …..but that means that any other thing such as who ordered what is fair gain.

    Oh dear.

    That should read “ordered what is fair game.”

    My apologies.

    PIMF.

  7. eeyore says:

    I can’t go with the idea that someone loses their rights just because they work for the government.

    I didn’t say they would lose their rights, only their job. Their first duty is to the public since we pay their salaries. If take the 5th because they may incriminate themselves they are not serving the public. If they take if for another reason, that is worse. A job is not a guaranteed right, especially one that should serve the public.

  8. gitarcarver says:

    I didn’t say they would lose their rights, only their job.

    I realize that. But the fact of the matter is that you are saying they should lose their job for exercising a right guaranteed under the Constitution.

    As I said, does that mean the person should also lose the right to have their homes searched without a warrant? Or not be able to speak about subjects outside the workplace?

    What is the difference between those rights (4th and 1st Amendments) and the 5th Amendment?

  9. eeyore says:

    But the fact of the matter is that you are saying they should lose their job for exercising a right guaranteed under the Constitution.

    A public service individual can certainly plead the 5th to not incriminate themselves for any criminal matter. No rights are taken away. They are not immediately arrested. A public service individual does not have a right to a public service job.

    They are asked to defend what they did as public servants by other public servants. If they do not want to for any reason, they should no longer be employed as public servants. If they want to be paid by the public that is who they are answerable to. Refusing to answer should be a fireable offense. This includes Presidents, Judges, Senators and Representatives.

    In my private employment, if I was called to the Board to defend some action, legal or otherwise, and said I did nothing wrong and I refuse to tell you any more (basically pleading the 5th before them) about a scandal I would be instantaneously fired.

    If you were to do the same thing to an IRS agent auditing you, you would instantly owe what they said you did, no slack.

  10. gitarcarver says:

    A public service individual does not have a right to a public service job.

    A public servant does have the right to exercise their rights.

    The idea of “tell us what we want to know or else lose your job” is the epitome of “compelled testimony” as in “….nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself,….”

    As for your private employment, that is not the same thing as government doing something. The Bill of Rights protects people from government actions.

  11. eeyore says:

    They of course have all rights, including the 5th amendment. I don’t want them to be forced to admit anything illegal but I do want to trust public officials and bureaucrats.

    If a policeman were on the stand and asked why 99% of his arrests in rural Idaho were African-American women and he gave his answer, I didn’t do anything wrong and I plead the 5th, he should be fired because who would trust a policeman, his judgement and his arrests after this answer.

    We should have faith in our public servants. When they are asked why they did something during their public service and will not explain to the public what they did, they should not have a public job since the public trust is broken.

    Now they can answer behind closed doors to our public representatives for classified or other reasons, but the public servant should still answer what they did.

    If they take the 5th, they did not answer the public either because they don’t want to answer for some reason or cannot because of self-incrimination. They still have the rights afforded to them. They are not imprisoned or arrested but since they will not answer to what they did they have lost the public trust and should not have a public job.

    On Powerline, someone who was with the Internal Revenue Criminal Investigation Division said they would be fired for taking the 5th.

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2013/05/on-irc-section-1203.php

    You say they are compelled to testify against themselves. NO NEVER. They don’t have to say a thing, but since the trust is broken by not explaining their public actions, they should not be allowed that continued employment by the public.

  12. eeyore says:

    Lois Lerner, the head of the exempt organizations division of the IRS

    Lois Lerner was the government to all of those who sent her applications. The government should be answerable to the public for the public to trust it. Since Ms. Lerner (the government)decided not to rightly or wrongly (took the 5th) answer questions about her public duties and actions, she should not be employed as the government since we cannot trust her.

    It comes down to trust of our government officials and bureaucrats. They should always explain their governmental actions to the public or get out of the government entirely.

  13. gitarcarver says:

    If they take the 5th, they did not answer the public either because they don’t want to answer for some reason or cannot because of self-incrimination. They still have the rights afforded to them. They are not imprisoned or arrested but since they will not answer to what they did they have lost the public trust and should not have a public job.

    “Tell us what we ask or lose your job” is compelled testimony.

    You can argue all day as to what you want or believe, but law is clear – you can’t force someone to testify against themselves.

    The case of Slochower v. Board of Higher Education of New York City is direct on point:

    Section 903 of the New York City Charter provides that, whenever a city employee utilizes the privilege against self-incrimination to avoid answering before a legislative committee a question relating to his official conduct, his employment shall terminate. A teacher in a college operated by the City was summarily discharged under this section, without notice or hearing, because, while testifying before a federal legislative committee, he refused to answer questions concerning his membership in the Communist Party in 1940 and 1941, on the ground that his answers might tend to incriminate him. Under the New York Education Law, he was entitled to tenure, and could be discharged only for cause and after notice, hearing and appeal.

    Held: In the circumstances of this case, his summary dismissal violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 552-559.

    (a) The privilege against self-incrimination would be reduced to a hollow mockery if its exercise could be taken as equivalent either to a confession of guilt or a conclusive presumption of perjury. Pp. 556-558.

    (b) On the record in this case, it cannot be claimed that the Board’s action in dismissing the teacher was part of a bona fide attempt to gain needed and relevant information regarding his qualifications for his position. Pp. 558-559.

    (c) Since no inference of guilt was possible from the claim of the privilege against self-incrimination before the federal committee, the discharge falls of its own weight as wholly without support. P. 559.

    (And by the way, notice how in the link provided, the “agent” gives the section for which one can be fired from the IRS and none of them say “taking the Fifth” or “exercising a Constitutional right.”)

  14. eeyore says:

    Finally, I’d note that when I was working at IRS-CID, taking the Fifth in any proceeding was grounds for termination. I have no idea whether that’s true for other IRS employees, but a Special Agent could never take five and survive. You don’t have a constitutional right to a government job.

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2013/05/on-irc-section-1203.php

    While it may not be in the regulations cited (1203), it can and should be a part of employment if you are the government. You and I can certainly disagree, but the government (Lois Lerner) should either explain its decisions to the public or no longer work for the public. This is not about testifying against themselves but being accountable.

    If the government won’t explain itself, we cannot trust it. Without the trust, the government and law do not work. She can, does not and should not say a word (5th), but she should not work as the government if she won’t explain why her decisions are made. Perhaps laws or regulations should make this clear.

    These should include Presidents, Cabinet members, Senators, Representatives and Judges as well. They have the authority, they should explain either to the public or their representatives their public governmental decisions or get out. That is the accountability we need.

  15. gitarcarver says:

    This is not about testifying against themselves but being accountable.

    I understand your position.

    It is contrary to the Constitution.

  16. eeyore says:

    My apologies

  17. gitarcarver says:

    eeyore,

    While the apology is nice and appreciated, there is no need to apologize. Trust me when I say that I understand and appreciate your thought process.

    I just get really nervous when we start looking at carving out exceptions to the Constitution.

    Take care.