Days after her retirement — with full pension — amid widespread calls for her removal, former IRS official Lois Lerner is now preparing for an inevitable testimony before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Head of the agency’s tax-exempt department during the two-year period during which conservative groups were unfairly targeted for additional investigation, Lerner has heretofore been conspicuously quiet.
Previously going so far as to attempt invoking her Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination, her lawyers are now reportedly exploring options to grant her immunity for any future comments.
According to committee adviser Ali Ahmad, the subpoena Lerner was bound to during her last appearance is still in effect.
“The Chairman [Rep. Darrell Issa] did not adjourn the hearing,” Ahmad explained, “he recessed it.”
While Lerner has not yet been granted any immunity deal, he said the committee has “indicated a willingness to listen to any offers from her attorney about what she would testify to if it was offered.”
Recent evidence, including a number of email correspondences, seem to indicate that Lerner had an active role in the scandal; however, she was previously precluded from exercising her Fifth Amendment right due to a prior statement that she had “not broken any laws.” At this point, it seems, an immunity deal is her best chance to avoid potential prosecution for her involvement or jail time for failing to testify.
There has been no official report indicating when she will next be called to testify or what the scope of her potential deal with investigators might include.
In the interest of justice, Lerner should be held accountable for her part in a scheme to effectively silence conservative voices during the heated midterm and presidential election cycles of 2010 and 2012. Should Issa decide that immunity is warranted, however, one hopes she will provide enough evidence to actually clean up the corruption so prevalent within the IRS.