The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is moving in the direction of holding ex-IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress sooner rather than later, committee member Rep. Jim Jordan told The Daily Caller.
“I think that’s where we’re moving,” Jordan said. “I think that’s where this is headed.”
Jordan added that he feels holding Lerner in contempt is “the right thing to do.”
An Oversight Committee staffer confirmed that a contempt charge is being considered.
Lerner invoked the Fifth Amendment on each question Issa asked about the agency’s targeting of conservative groups at an Oversight hearing Wednesday morning. 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.”
Lerner sat for a “Q&A” with the Department of Justice but was not under oath, Lerner’s attorney Bill Taylor told TheDC Wednesday.
“She sat for a long, unconditional Q&A with prosecutors and members of the inspector general’s staff,” Taylor said, but her interview will not be made public.
“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.
Taylor claimed that Lerner was fully willing to testify in one week but not at Wednesday’s Oversight hearing. The purpose of the “one-week delay” Taylor proposed to Oversight was to give Lerner, who has been under subpoena since May 2013, “a breather.”
If the full House of Representatives chooses to cite Lerner for contempt, the case would be referred to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia who would be obligated to send the case on to a grand jury. The House can also use the “inherent contempt” process which would allow the House to conduct the case itself without a grand jury, though this process was last used in 1934.