House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said Wednesday that he might recall Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner to testify on the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups, if counsel determined that she had waived her Fifth Amendment rights by delivering an opening statement. But as of Wednesday evening, Lerner’s lawyer said Issa had not acted to recall Lerner.
Reached by email, William W. Taylor, III, the attorney representing Lerner in the criminal case opened by the Department of Justice, said that Lerner had not waived her right to remain silent, nor had Issa recalled her to testify.
“Shedidnt andhehasnt [sic],” Taylor — a high-powered Washington litigator whose clients include former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, New York Stock Exchange official Kenneth Langone and the late Keating Five member Sen. Alan Cranston — emailed from his iPhone.
Lerner was required to attend the hearing Wednesday morning on the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups. She arrived Wednesday morning, delivered an opening statement insisting that she had done nothing wrong, and then asserted her Fifth Amendment right and made clear that she would not be answering any questions for the hearing.
Issa, a California Republican, subsequently excused Lerner from the hearing, but not before Republican South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, protested that she had waived that privilege when she delivered an opening statement that touched on the subjects to be discussed in the hearing. But ranking Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland noted that a committee hearing was not, in fact, a federal courtroom, and therefore it did not function in that way. Issa permitted Lerner to leave, recognizing her right to remain silent.
At the end of the hearing, however, the chairman appeared to reconsider his position, announcing that he planned to have counsel review whether Lerner had indeed waived her right. Issa recessed the hearing, instead of adjourning it, so that he could recall her to testify without having to issue another subpoena.