House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said embattled IRS official Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights and will be hauled back to appear before his panel again.
The California Republican said Lerner’s Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination was voided when she gave an opening statement this morning denying any wrongdoing and professing pride in her government service.
“When I asked her her questions from the very beginning, I did so so she could assert her rights prior to any statement,” Issa told POLITICO. “She chose not to do so — so she waived.”
Lerner’s decision to speak at all immediately triggered a dust-up among lawmakers who were confused about whether she gave up her Fifth Amendment protections when she made an opening statement.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), a former federal prosecutor, said Lerner lost her rights the minute she started proclaiming her innocence, and that lawmakers therefore were entitled to question her. But Ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings of Maryland said hearing rules were not like those of a courtroom.