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Oversight Committee: Lerner Waived Her 5th Amendment Right

Location: Washington, DC

On a vote of 22-17, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today approved a resolution determining that IRS official Lois Lerner waived her 5th amendment rights when at a May 22, 2013 hearing she offered testimony and answered questions.

"Today's vote brings us closer to hearing Ms. Lerner's important testimony about the targeting of conservatives," said Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif. "The Committee remains focused on hearing Ms. Lerner's full and truthful testimony."

Lerner was the Director of Exempt Organizations at the IRS during the time that political groups applying for tax exempt status were being targeted for extra scrutiny. As such, she is in a unique position to answer key questions about the targeting. On May 22, after being subpoenaed to testify, Lerner appeared before the Committee and gave a voluntary opening statement denying any wrongdoing and stating that she intended to invoke her Fifth Amendment right. Several Committee members raised objections, contending the witness had effectively waived her Fifth Amendment right by reading a self-selected and entirely voluntary opening statement that was entered into the record. After conferring with counsel, Issa allowed Lerner to leave and later recessed the hearing so the issue may be resolved.

The Committee defeated an amendment offered by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton, D-D.C., to effectively kill the resolution by a vote of 20-16.

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