Issa reviewing whether Lerner waived Fifth Amendment rights by giving opening statement

Alexis Levinson | Political Reporter

WASHINGTON — House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said that he is looking into the possibility that Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights by delivering an opening statement before invoking them, and reserved the right to call her back and demand that she testify.

At the conclusion of Wednesday’s hearing on the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservatives, Issa said he was reviewing the point raised by Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, a former district attorney, at the beginning of the hearing.

Gowdy said that as Lerner, the head of the IRS’s tax exempt organizations division, had delivered an opening statement and addressed some of the issues that were the subject of the hearing, she had thereby waived her privilege to invoke her Fifth Amendment right.

“You don’t get to tell your side of the story and not be subjected to cross examination,” Gowdy said. “That’s not the way it works. She waived her right to Fifth Amendment privilege by issuing an opening statement, she ought to stand here and answer our questions.”

Issa initially disagreed and excused Lerner from the hearing after she said that she would not be answering any questions at all.

But at the close of the six hour hearing, Issa said he was reconsidering that.

“I must consider this, so, although I excused Ms. Lerner subject to a recall, I am looking into the possibility of recalling her and insisting that she answer questions in light of a waiver,” Issa said.

“For that reason,” he explained, “… this hearing stands in recess, not adjourned.”

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