Lois Lerner, who led the Internal Revenue Service unit that awarded tax-exempt status to advocacy groups, appeared on Wednesday before the Oversight and Government Reform Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, which is investigating revelations that conservative groups were targeted for extra scrutiny and delays.
Her appearance was brief. Lerner read a prepared statement in which she said she had broken no laws, nor violated any IRS regulations. Then she proceeded to invoke her Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions put to her by lawmakers. Faced with her refusal to provide answers, she was dismissed, Reuters noted.
Not surprisingly, lawmakers, especially republicans, objected. Committee chairman Darrel Issa (R-Calif) noted that by reading a statement protesting her innocence, Lerner had actually waived her Fifth Amendment rights. He said she could be called back to testify again.
Another republican lawmaker received applause when he urged Lerner to stay and answer questions.
Lerner has been accused of lying to Congress about IRS handling of conservative groups when she testified last year. Her refusal to answer questions about the matter has infuriated republicans and increased pressure on the White House to take action over the scandal.
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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