Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Self Incrimination and Taking the 5th ... IRS Debacle Is Getting More Interesting Each Day

Lois Lerner, the IRS official who last week was the first to admit that the IRS was targeting conservative groups, won't be answering any questions from Congress at the hearings Wednesday.

She doesn't want to incriminate herself.

Lerner to Decline to Answer Questions says this:

"Lois Lerner, the head of the Internal Revenue Service office that targeted conservative groups, intends to invoke her constitutional right against self-incrimination and decline to answer questions about the matter when questioned by a congressional committee Wednesday.

Ms. Lerner, director of the tax-exempt-organizations division at the IRS, notified the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform through her attorney that she wouldn't answer questions on the matter, according to a committee spokesman.

Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) will require her to appear at the hearing anyway, a spokesman said Tuesday.

"Chairman Issa remains hopeful that she will ultimately decide to testify tomorrow about her knowledge of outrageous IRS targeting of Americans for their political beliefs," said the spokesman, Ali Ahmad.

The announcement underscores the potential seriousness of the legal situation facing some officials in the IRS controversy. The Justice Department has launched a criminal probe of the targeting and its aftermath. That investigation likely will look into possible civil-rights violations and questions about whether top IRS officials misled lawmakers who raised questions about tea-party complaints of alleged IRS harassment. .. .

New details also emerged (Tuesday) about how Ms. Lerner, director of the tax-exempt division at the IRS, came to disclose the results of the inspector general's report at a bar-association event. Mr. Miller testified last week that Ms. Lerner's decision to reveal what had happened was cooked up beforehand. On Tuesday, he said that he took responsibility for the idea. Mr. Miller also said discussions were ongoing about disciplining Ms. Lerner. Mr. Miller has already agreed to resign.

Other details remained unclear, including who overruled a 2011 decision by Ms. Lerner to put an end to the practice of targeting groups based on their names or whether they focused on subjects—like government debt and spending—that are popular in conservative circles. The Treasury inspector general for tax administration, J. Russell George, who was also testifying Tuesday, said he didn't know who decided to resume the practice of singling out conservative groups. . . .

Separately, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told Senators Tuesday that he first learned of the audit into the IRS in mid-March but didn't see specific details of an inspector general's report into the targeting of conservative groups until last week....

The timing of when Obama administration officials found out about the inspector general's report has become central to the burgeoning probe into the allegations. Mr. Lew, who previously served as White House chief of staff, said he first became aware there was an audit regarding the targeting issue during a routine meeting with the inspector general in March. Pressed by lawmakers as to what actions he took after being told of the audit, Mr. Lew said he waited to see the final report."

Summing Up

This is getting more interesting each day.

It looks like government is not only much too big but that the government knows best gang of do-gooders has been behaving quite badly, too.

That's my take.

Thanks. Bob.

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