Republicans May Call Back IRS Official Who Refused to Testify

Published 05/23 2013 10:10AM

Updated 05/23 2013 10:14AM

House Republicans are considering trying to haul back into the hearing room the embattled IRS official who refused to testify Wednesday, claiming she may have inadvertently waived her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent by delivering an opening statement.

Lois Lerner, the head of the exempt organizations division which oversaw the controversial targeting of conservative groups, caused confusion on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning when she -- according to some lawmakers -- tried to have it both ways. She pleaded the Fifth, saying she would refuse to answer questions from a House committee probing the IRS program. But before she did so, she delivered a defiant opening statement declaring she had done nothing wrong.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, questioned whether she had "effectively waived" her rights, but ultimately dismissed her from the hearing room. But Issa and others are now strongly considering trying to call her back.

"If you could do it the way she wants to do it, then every defendant would come, say 'I didn't rob the bank, and I'm not going to answer the prosecutor's questions,'" Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., told Fox News. "So we'd all in life like to get out our version without having to answer anyone else's questions. It's just not fair. And I don't think it's legal."

Issa made clear by the end of Wednesday's hearing that he was strongly considering calling Lerner back.

"I must consider this, so although I excuse Ms. Lerner, subject to a recall, I am looking into the possibility of recalling her and insisting that she answer questions in light of a waiver," Issa said.

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