California Rep. Darrell Issa adjourned a divisive House Oversight hearing Wednesday after IRS official Lois Lerner pleaded the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer his questions.
“Seeking the truth is the obligation of this committee,” Issa said before announcing that he had no expectation that Lerner would answer his questions and adjourning the hearing.
Lerner invoked the Fifth Amendment on each question Issa asked about the agency’s targeting of conservative groups. The hearing lasted approximately fifteen minutes before Issa released Lerner.
Issa began the hearing by explaining that Lerner previously waived her Fifth Amendment rights in a May 2013 hearing and that “the committee may proceed to consider whether she be held in contempt.”
Issa did not choose to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress on the floor of the hearing. It is unclear at this time if he will choose to pursue contempt charges.
Immediately after Issa adjourned, Democratic Oversight Committee Ranking Member Rep. Elijah Cummings angrily blasted Issa’s efforts. Issa ignored Cummings and shut off the Democrat’s microphone.
“Mr. Chairman, you cannot run a committee like this,” Cummings shouted, calling Issa’s inquiry a “one-sided investigation” and saying, “We’re better than this as a country.”
“I am a member of the Congress of the United States of America, and I am tired of this,” Cummings shouted.
“Close it down,” Issa said, releasing Lerner and angrily cutting Cummings’ microphone.
Issa noted in his remarks that Oversight has “conducted 33 bipartisan, transcribed interviews with employees from the IRS” but that the IRS “continues to withhold” some of Lerner’s emails that Issa requested in his three separate subpoenas for documents.