Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Lois Lerner, a former department head of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), again refused to answer questions during a House oversight committee hearing on her alleged targeting of conservative groups on Wednesday prompting the panel to discontinue the investigation.
Lerner, who retired as head of the Exempt Organization office in September, invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to each of 10 questions asked by committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). Lerner said her lawyer advised her to invoke her right.
Issa then adjourned the meeting and said he is considering charging Lerner with contempt and getting evidence from other sources.
Lerner was prompted to appear at the hearing for the second time since May after her lawyer, William Taylor, failed to agree with Issa’s staff on allowing his client to get a private deposition instead of a public hearing.
In the first hearing, Lerner insisted she was innocent before refusing to answer questions from lawmakers, citing her Fifth Amendment rights. The congressional investigation was triggered by her publicly apology for improper conduct at a tax conference last year.
Republicans accused her of subjecting Tea Party groups to added scrutiny delaying their application for tax exemption.
Meanwhile, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) threatened to hold Lerner in contempt after the hearing adjourned. Boehner said he will wait for the report of Issa before making a decision.
The hearing was marred by a heated exchange of words between Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat on the panel, and Issa, after the latter prevented him from speaking by turning off his microphone.