Lois Lerner told the House Oversight Committee in May that she did not want to incriminate herself in giving testimony about the Internal Revenue Service discrimination scandal targeting Tea Party and conservative nonprofit groups during President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.
She did a bad job of pleading the 5th last year, but has nevertheless remained adamant that she won’t testify unless ordered to do so by a judge — or unless she’s granted immunity from any prosecution her testimony might otherwise elicit. Lerner, the former director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division, appears to know enough to be scared. She reiterated her immunity sine qua non again Wednesday after the Oversight Committee issued a fresh order for her to appear at a hearing next week.
Through her attorney, Lerner had reportedly been nearing an agreement with the Oversight Committee to give them a preview of what she might say if she were to testify — a first step toward answering a summons without invoking the 5th Amendment.
Lerner stepped down from her IRS role in September, five months after telling the Oversight Committee they couldn’t make her talk unless they could guarantee her freedom. Nearly a year later, and five more months removed from her job, she hasn’t budged — even as the IRS scandal fades from public consciousness.
What does she know?