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Public Statements

Recommending that the House Find Lois G. Lerner in Contempt of Congress

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. NORTON. Mr. Speaker, if the point of a contempt resolution is to find out what Lois Lerner knows, what the committee wants to know, whether there was a deliberate targeting of citizens for political reasons.

The fact is that the committee passed up the opportunity to learn this information. It asked her attorney: Would you tell us what she would tell us?

It is called a proffer. Indeed, her attorney sent a letter to the chairman offering to provide a proffer. That is the information we want to know. This proffer would detail what Ms. Lerner would testify.

Instead of accepting that proffer, the chairman went on national television and claimed that this written offer never happened. The chairman, therefore, never obtained the proffer that the attorney was willing to offer, the information which is the only reason we should be on this floor at all.

When the ranking member tried to ask about it at a hearing in March, the chairman famously cut off his microphone and closed down the hearing in one of the worst examples of partisanship the committee has ever seen.

The chairman did something similar when Ms. Lerner's attorney offered to have her testify with a simple one-week extension, Mr. Speaker, since the attorney had obligations out of town.

Rather than accept this offer to get the committee the information that is at the bottom of this contempt matter today, the chairman went on national television and declared, inaccurately, that she would testify without the extension. Of course, that meant nothing could happen. There was no trust left.

Clearly, what the committee wanted was a Fifth Amendment show hearing, in violation of Ms. Lerner's rights. They wanted a contempt citation vote. That is the political contempt citation vote scheduled today. It will never hold up in the courts of the United States of America.

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