WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An IRS official effectively waived her right not to testify about the tax agency’s targeting of conservative groups, a Republican-led congressional committee concluded on Friday in a vote that cleared the way for Congress to hold her in contempt.
Lois Lerner, former head of the Internal Revenue Service’s tax-exempt division, angered Republicans last month when she invoked her constitutional right not to answer their questions at a hearing.
The committee is investigating the IRS’s admission that it subjected applications for tax exempt status from groups with “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in their names to special scrutiny.
By reading a statement telling lawmakers that she did “nothing wrong” before invoking her Fifth Amendment protections, some Republicans said that Lerner waived her rights.
The Oversight and Government Reform Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives approved on a party-line vote a Republican resolution on Friday saying that Lerner did waive her Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.
“That is the not the way the Fifth Amendment works. You don’t get to tell your side of the story,” and then avoid cross examination, said Republican Trey Gowdy. “She sat there and could have said nothing.”
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