WASHINGTON — House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa said Wednesday his committee will consider holding former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress after she again refused to testify before his committee.
Speaking to reporters after Wednesday’s 15-minute long hearing concluded, Issa said it’s possible that Lerner will be held in contempt. “That’s certainly something that has to be considered,” he said.
Like she did last year, when Lerner appeared before the committee on Wednesday, she refused to testify on the agency’s targeting of conservative groups by invoking her Fifth Amendment rights. Issa has argued Lerner waived those rights when she made a voluntary opening statement proclaiming her innocence in a May hearing before invoking the fifth.
Lerner is the former Director of Tax-Exempt Organizations at the IRS, which has been accused of intentionally targeting conservative political groups for extra review.
Speaking of getting Lerner to provide information about the IRS, Issa said he had “exhausted any possibility” of her actually testifying. “At this point, we have attempted multiple ways.”
Issa also accused Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, of slandering him after a fight broke out between the two at the end of the high-profile IRS hearing.
After Issa adjourned the hearing, Cummings, who wanted to speak on his frustrations with the Republican effort, began to yell: “I am a member of the Congress of the United States of America, and I am tired of this.”
Issa ordered Cummings microphone shut off. But the Democrat continued speaking.
“He was actually slandering me at the moment that the mics did go off by claiming this had not been a real investigation,” Issa said of Cummings. “This had been a bipartisan investigation. By multiple committees. In which we had testimony in multiple hearings.”