Top IRS official pleads the 5th Amendment at testy House hearing

LA Times- by Richard Simon and Melanie Mason

WASHINGTON — A top Internal Revenue Service official invoked the 5th Amendment and declined to testify Wednesday before a House committee investigating the agency’s mishandling of applications by some conservative groups for tax-exempt status.

Lois Lerner, director of the IRS’ exempt organizations unit, spoke deliberately and crisply in her opening remarks to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the first time she has appeared before Congress since she revealed earlier this month that the division she oversaw inappropriately screened and questioned tea party and other groups seeking nonprofit status.  

“I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws,” Lerner said. “I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided any false information to this or any other congressional committee.”

The fireworks started from the hearing’s outset, the third congressional showdown on the IRS controversy in less than a week. Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Vista), in his opening remarks, had harsh words not only for IRS and administration officials, but for the Treasury inspector general as well, whose audit was initiated at Issa’s request. Issa said J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, did not inform him soon enough about the results of his review.

George is one of four witnesses appearing before the committee Wednesday, along with former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman, deputy Treasury secretary Neal Wolin and Lerner. It was Lerner’s refusal to answer questions that prompted a combative early exchange.

“While I would very much like to answer the committee’s questions today, I’ve been advised by my counsel to assert my constitutional right not to testify or answer questions related to the subject matter of this hearing,” Lerner said. “After very careful consideration, I’ve decided to follow my counsel’s advice and not testify or answer any of the questions today.

“Because I’m asserting my right not to testify, I know that some people will assume that I’ve done something wrong. I have not. One of the basic functions of the 5th Amendment is to protect innocent individuals, and that is the protection I’m invoking today.”

Issa asked Lerner to reconsider.

“I will not answer any questions or testify about the subject matter of this committee’s meeting,” she responded.

Issa then dismissed Lerner and her attorney, criminal defense lawyer William W. Taylor III, from the hearing room, prompting an objection from his Republican colleague, Rep.Trey Gowdy of South Carolina.

“You don’t get to tell your side of the story and then not be subjected to cross-examination. That’s not the way it works,” said Gowdy, a former prosecutor. “She waived her right to 5th Amendment privilege by issuing an opening statement. She ought to stand here and answer our questions.”

Some in the audience applauded.

The committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, interjected. “Unfortunately, this is not a federal court, and she does have the right, and we have to adhere to that,” he said.

Issa consulted with his staff, asked Lerner again to reconsider or answer a narrower range of questions. Again she declined, and Issa excused Lerner and her attorney from the hearing room.

Lerner’s refusal to testify was known in advance to the committee. Taylor, in a letter sent to Issa on Monday, asserted Lerner “has not committed any crime or made any misrepresentation but under the circumstances she has no choice but to take this course.”

According to an inspector general’s report, Lerner found out in June 2011 that some staff in the IRS Cincinnati field office had used such terms as “tea party” and “patriots” to select applications for additional scrutiny. The report stated Lerner ordered changes to the inappropriate criteria.

But neither Lerner nor anyone else at the IRS told Congress, even after repeated queries from several committees, including House Oversight, about whether some groups had been singled out unfairly.

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8 thoughts on “Top IRS official pleads the 5th Amendment at testy House hearing

  1. Hmmmm, very suspicious. If you have done nothing wrong, why not testify? Perhaps you could bring forth evidence regarding those who have done wrong. Well, I suppose if this woman can utilize the Bill of Rights, and it’s honoured, then by golly the people’s rights are alive and well!

  2. Actually, you have done wrong by simply working for that private federal reserve mafia that robs the people. Joe Banister saw the light and got the heck out of that criminal enterprise, why didn’t you? No excuses for just doing your job! You have aided the enemy, which makes you culpable.

  3. She is as guilty as the guilty party is guilty. She said that she did not break any laws, well if you protect the guilty then – like the courts have said to me and many others – you are as guilty as the guilty party, and obviously she is protecting someone and if not she is incompetant at the job she has and should be fired on the spot.

  4. Funny how they are destroying the Constitution and Her Amendments as they apply to the American public yet, when it works to their advantage, they use the f##k out of them !!!
    This is what a true political slut looks like, no matter whether they’re male of female.

    1. The Constitution now only applies to the chosen privileged–not the serfs. Perhaps they should have her testify before the Grand Jury; her lawyer probably won’t be permitted to be present, and if she pleads the 5th, the Grand Jury can indict her on the evidence alone. In addition, she could be jailed until she does testify.

      Now, if she testifies and implicates the person(s) who directed her actions, she will get the same treatment as a domestic terrorist and an overhead drone will be in her future.

  5. Lies, Lies and more Lies.
    This is what the Zionist Jews do best.
    Lerner said she did nothing wrong. Stalin, Hitler and Netanyahu did nothing wrong either.
    If she doesn’t want to talk, take her home, take her savings, take her car, take all her worldly possessions away. She needs to feel what it is like to be on this end of the IRS wrath. Make sure she gets kicked out on the street. Once that is done go after the Family members.
    Start treating the Jews like they treated the Palestinian People once they occupied Palestine.
    We need all the Zionist Jews out of our Government. The care nothing of the people of the United States. They care more for the terrorist state israel. Why is it that we send over 8 MILLION dollars A DAY to israel. This is mine and your tax dollars going to support ethnic cleansing, terror, torture, and what ever else these scum bags do over there. A lot of the males and Rabbi’s are into Pedophilia, ( their moto is ” Little Boys butts drive me nutz”).

  6. According to a news bulletin by the ACLJ, Defense Counsel, the letter used was number 1313. It is noteworthy the letter has no OMB number, which is bogus to begin with.
    When Congress forced the IRS to make available to the public, their own manual,( IRM), legal research turned the corner.
    Let’s take a look.
    (overview) IRS letter no. 1313 is reserved for Notice of application for recognition of status of qualified group legal services plan.
    The supposed authority for letter 1313, is IRS form 1024, the assigned OMB control number is 1545-0057. It has to have law and regulation, mandatory.
    Letter 1313 request for information for cases received on form 1024 (01-01-2003)
    Letters for Open Cases
    1. For open cases, the appropriate letters are as follows:
    A. Letter 1312(DO/CG) — First request for additional information for cases received on Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
    B. *Letter 1313 (DO/CG) — First request for additional information for cases received on Form 1024, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(a) or Determination Under section 120.._______________________________________________________
    Listed below is the regulation for form 1024 as stated 26 CFR (code of federal Regulations), 26 CFR 1.120-3. (note; Foreign application for recognition of status of qualified group legal services plan)

    IRS FORM 1024 OMB CONTROL NUMBER 1545-0057
    1545-0057 REGULATIONS
    26 CFR 1.120-3 – Notice of application for recognition of status of qualified group legal services plan
    § 1.120-3
    Notice of application for recognition of status of qualified group legal services plan.
    (a) In general. In order for a plan to be a qualified group legal services plan for purposes of the exclusion from gross income provided by section 120(a), the plan must give notice to the Internal Revenue Service that it is applying for recognition of its status as a qualified plan. Paragraph (b) of this section describes how the notice is to be filed for the plan. Paragraph (c) of this section describes the action that the Internal Revenue Service will take in response to the notice submitted for the plan. Paragraph (d) of this section describes the period of plan qualification.

    Code of Federal Regulations (annual edition)

    Public and Private Law References
    Public Law 89-97, Public Law 93-406, Public Law 103-3

    *Section 1.120-3 – Notice of application for recognition of status of qualified group legal services plan.

    So the authority for the regulation is Public Law 93-406, in 1974, Congress passed the Employees Income Retirement Act. (ERISA), for foreign affiliates to the International Labor Organization, codified at 26 U.S.C. §406.
    26 U.S.C. §406. Employees of foreign affiliates covered by section 3121(L) agreements
    Amendment by section 1016(a)(4) of Pub. L. 93–406 applicable, except as otherwise provided in section 1017(c) through (i) of Pub. L. 93–406, for plan years beginning after Sept. 2, 1974, but, in the case of plans in existence on Jan. 1, 1974, amendment by Pub. L. 93–406 applicable for plan years beginning after Dec. 31, 1975, see section 1017 of Pub. L. 93–406, set out as an Effective Date; Transition of Rules note under section 410 of this title.
    “Notice of application for recognition of status of qualified group legal services plan”. what?

    The intent is obviously, IRS Letter 1313, (foreign) (qualified group legal services plan). is in this instance criminal, a total disregard for the tax laws, and meant to intimidate, and harass. .

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