Ex-IRS official Lois Lerner’s attorney Bill Taylor held a press briefing Wednesday after his client pleaded the Fifth Amendment at a House Oversight hearing, prompting Oversight chairman Rep. Darrell Issa to adjourn the hearing. It remains unclear whether Issa will seek to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress.
Taylor told The Daily Caller and other reporters that Lerner has not waived her Fifth Amendment rights as Issa claimed and that Lerner believes the entire issue is over for her now. Taylor also said that he did not read Issa’s most recent report but is sure that it is inaccurate and that Lerner’s attempt to delay her testimony was intended to give her “a breather” of seven more days after a ten-month scandal. Here are ten takeaways from the press briefing:
1. Taylor claimed that Lerner has not waived her Fifth Amendment rights
Chairman Issa noted at Wednesday’s hearing that the committee found Lerner had waived her Fifth Amendment rights when she attested to her innocence at a May 2013 hearing.
Taylor said that there is “no serious concern that Ms. Lerner waived her rights under the Fifth Amendment. … The law is so clear. … She is relying on the advice of her counsel that she has not waived” her Fifth Amendment rights.
2. Lerner’s attempt to get a one-week delay on her testimony was intended to give her “a breather”
Taylor claimed that Lerner was fully willing to testify in one week but not at Wednesday’s Oversight hearing. The purpose of the proposed one-week delay was to give Lerner “a breather.”
Lerner has been under subpoena since May 2013.
3. Taylor has not read Chairman Issa’s report prepared for Wednesday’s hearing, but he is sure that it is partisan and inaccurate
“I haven’t seen the report,” Taylor conceded, adding that he heard the Committee minority has not seen the report either.
Taylor also said that Issa’s investigation has “become polarized and completely partisan” and that “[t]his is crazy, irresponsible stuff. It creates fear and it panders to fearmongering … no reason Lois Lerner should have to participate.”
Taylor also said that it is impossible to get a definition of “targeting” from “anybody on that side of the aisle.”
“The objective is to keep this controversy white-hot through the next election cycle.”
4. Lerner will not talk to other congressional committees either
Lerner has had “some” communication with other committees, but “She’s not going to provide information to another committee that she didn’t provide to this committee.”
5. Taylor first denied, then admitted that he negotiated for immunity on Lerner’s behalf
“She hasn’t been negotiating for immunity. … That’s simply not true,” Taylor said.
Taylor then admitted that he put forth a proffer to the Oversight committee for immunity at “a meeting in January” which was convened “at their [the committee's] suggestion.”
“Why don’t you solve everybody’s problem and will you give her a proffer?” Taylor said the committee asked him, to which he responded with a proffer for immunity.
Taylor conceded that characterizing the January meeting as a negotiation for immunity is “OK with me.” He also paraphrased Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy’s comment that the committee would not grant her immunity and suggested, therefore, that no incentive exists for Lerner to seek immunity.
“I should give them a proffer but they’re not going to immunize us?”
6. Lerner sat for a “Q&A” with the Department of Justice (DOJ) but was not under oath
“She sat for a long, unconditional Q&A with prosecutors and members of the inspector general’s staff,” Taylor said.
“It was not under oath,” Taylor admitted, maintaining that it would have been illegal for Lerner to have made false statements at the meeting. “You can’t lie to a federal investigator.”
“We haven’t heard anything back” from DOJ regarding the meeting, Taylor said. “I don’t expect we will.”
Obama political donor Barbara Bosserman is leading DOJ’s investigation, which has been roundly criticized by people close to the case.
7. Taylor denied communicating with White House staff at any point since Lerner retained his services
8. Taylor confirmed that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) successfully obtained information from the IRS about the nonprofit application status of multiple groups
“On a few occassions the FEC requested information from the IRS about whether an organization had been granted (c)(4) status” and that fact is a matter of “public record.”
9. Taylor said that the FBI has an open investigation into death threats Lerner has received
Taylor read two death threats Lerner allegedly received from right-wing members of the public, but declined to present “more” death threats she has received.
10. Lerner believes that the whole matter is over for her now
Taylor said that the hearing has been adjourned, that Lerner has been relieved, and that she will make no further statements or give any testimony unless forced to. Taylor said that Oversight “would have to start all over” in its investigation to compel Lerner back to the witness stand.