Lois Lerner, the former director of the Internal Revenue Service’s division responsible for quelling Tea Party groups while fast-tracking liberal nonprofits during President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, told a House oversight panel this in May:
I have not done anything wrong, 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. While I would very much like to answer the committee’s questions today, I have been advised by my counsel to assert my constitutional right not to testify or answer questions related to the subject manner of this hearing.
Then she attempted to invoke her 5th Amendment right not to testify against herself.
But now Lerner’s changed her mind, offering to testify about the IRS discrimination scandal — if she’s guaranteed immunity from prosecution. (Hey, no problem — she didn’t do anything wrong, remember?)
On Wednesday, Lerner’s attorney said she would testify before the House oversight committee, telling POLITICO: “They can obtain her testimony tomorrow by doing it the easy way … immunity. That’s the way to resolve all of this.”
The House oversight panel held a bipartisan vote last week, determining that Lerner indeed waived her 5th Amendment protection when, at her hearing in May, she prefaced her “silence” against self-incrimination by first telling the panel she was innocent of any wrongdoing. Republicans pounced, noting that Lerner attempted to have her legal cake and eat it, too, by rewriting the rules on how much a witness can say before clamming up under Constitutional protection.
Under the committee’s assertion that she waived her 5th Amendment rights, Lerner could be held in contempt if she refuses to testify at a future, as-yet unscheduled recall appearance.