Lois Lerner, the former IRS official who sat before Congress last year and said she did nothing wrong in the case of the IRS targeting conservative and Jewish political action groups then pleaded her Fifth Amendment rights when asked specific questions, has done it again.
Lerner, who is probably the key witness with detailed information concerning the entire (and still ongoing) event, received another subpoena to return to the House Oversight Committee hearing today to face more questioning. Originally it was said she would refuse to appear but that would have been a mistake on her part. She would have earned a contempt of Congress charge. (I may be guilty of that charge sometimes because I find myself contemptuous of Congress on a regular basis.)
Here is the thing I'm having difficulty with. During the initial hearing Ms. Lerner told the committee that she has "done nothing wrong." She made a short speech about it and then clammed up. When the committee began asking her specific questions she invoked her Fifth Amendment rights so as not to incriminate herself.
Wait.... huh? If you've done nothing wrong how is it you could incriminate yourself by answering questions?
Obviously Ms. Lerner is going to take the advice of her attorney rather than cooperate. However, with the e-mails allegedly sent by Ms. Lerner to associates, now made public, it seems her claim of innocence might not be quite true after all.
During the initial hearing, following Ms. Lerner's announcements that she did nothing wrong followed up by pleading her Fifth Amendment rights, she should have been held in contempt. Of course, I'm not a lawyer but if you make a statement of innocence and follow it up by saying "I refuse to answer because my answer may incriminate me,"then one of two things is true. You were either lying with the first statement or the second. Both statements cannot be true.
So which is it, Ms. Lerner? Are you guilty of knowingly and illegally targeting certain political action groups for increased IRS scrutiny to help your candidate win and election? Or are you an innocent victim of circumstance who is protecting someone else? Either way you're guilty of something - either the suspected wrongdoing or obstruction of justice. I guess that's why you're still pleading the 5th. By now you have certainly gotten yourself into legal trouble - even if you did cause it yourself.