Lerner: 'I Have Not Done Anything Wrong, I Have Not Broken Any Laws'
Ferrechio, Susan, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The
The head of the Internal Revenue Service division that targeted conservative groups told a congressional committee Wednesday that she did nothing wrong and is not to blame for the wrongdoing, but then invoked her Fifth Amendment protections against self- incrimination and refused to answer lawmakers' questions.
Louis Lerner was a witness lawmakers hoped would help finally answer the fundamental questions about who authorized the IRS to target the Tea Party and other conservative groups opposed to President Obama ahead of last year's election.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., dismissed Lerner from the hearing after she invoked the Fifth Amendment. He said he may recall Lerner to testify at a future hearing, saying she may have waived her Fifth Amendment rights when she first delivered an opening statement proclaiming her innocence. To force Lerner to return and testify, Issa refused to adjourn the hearing at the end of the day, instead gaveling it into recess.
"I am looking into the possibility of recalling her," Issa said.
In her opening statement, Lerner said her decision not to answer questions should not be interpreted as an indication that she is guilty of anything.
"I have not done anything wrong," Lerner said, reading from a sheet of paper at the start of the hearing. "I have not broken any laws, I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee."
Lerner, who appeared under subpoena, sat at a table with former IRS chief Doug Shulman, Deputy Treasury Secretary Neil Wolin and J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general. …