Darrell Issa, the Republican chair of the House Oversight Committee, told Fox News on Sunday that disgraced IRS official Lois Lerner will testify before Congress on Wednesday — despite her lawyer’s earlier assertion that she will continue to take the Fifth.
Formerly the head of the IRS’ Exempt Investigations Division, Lerner resigned following allegations that her office engaged in the deliberate targeting of conservative Tea Party groups for additional scrutiny. She famously refused to testify on the scandal last spring, invoking her right against self-incrimination. And she has refused additional Oversight Committee overtures to testify for months. (RELATED: White House, IRS exchanged confidential taxpayer info)
Now the California congressman is claiming that Lerner is ready to answer questions, telling Fox News’ Chris Wallace that “her attorney indicates now that she will testify”:
ISSA: It’s been a back-and-forth negotiation. But quite frankly, we believe that the evidence we’ve gathered causes her, in her best interest, to be someone who should testify.
WALLACE: But let me make sure — Lois Lerner, former IRS official who took the Fifth last May — will testify before your committee?
ISSA: According to her attorney.
WALLACE: This will be on Wednesday?
ISSA: It’ll be on Wednesday.
Wallace asked what may have changed Lerner’s mind. “We really don’t know,” Issa said. “What we do know is that during the intervening period, we’ve interviewed all the people around her to build a case for why she is at the center of this targeting. Why it wasn’t Cincinnati, it wasn’t liberal and conservative groups.” (RELATED: Email: IRS official said Lerner threw Cincinnati office under the bus)
“It was groups targeting first for their name — Patriot and Tea Party — and then later, at Lois Lerner’s insistence, by some objective statements,” Issa explained. “But for the most part they continued to target conservative groups.”
The oversight head revealed the one question he most wants answered Wednesday. “We know what she did, in most cases,” he said. “What we don’t know is why she did it.”
“We do really want to know that burning question of who else knew about it, who else coordinated,” he later added. “And candidly, I think the American people want to know that it won’t happen again.”
Lerner’s lawyer is disputing Issa’s claim that she will appear before Congress on Wednesday. “As of now, she intends to continue to assert her Fifth Amendment rights,” William W. Taylor asserted. “I do not know why Issa said what he said.”
Taylor wrote Issa earlier this week, explaining that he would not allow Lerner to appear before the committee without either immunity or a court order.
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