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Waiving the Fifth Amendment Before Congress — Not as Easy As Congress Might Hope
By Brian P. Ketcham
On June 28, 2013, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (the committee) passed a resolution declaring that IRS official Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights when she appeared at a hearing before the committee on May 22, 2013.1
Lerner serves as the IRS’s director of the Tax-Exempt and Government Entities Division; she is currently on paid administrative leave from the IRS as a result of allegations that her division improperly scrutinized purported conservative organizations seeking tax-exempt status. At the Oversight Committee hearing, Lerner made an opening statement attesting that she had done nothing wrong and had broken no laws in connection with the scandal.
House Republicans now contend that Lerner’s opening statement operated as a waiver of her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and that she may now be recalled before the committee and subjected to cross-examination, or held in contempt of Congress. Oversight Committee Chair Darre
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