As expected, IRS official Lois Lerner declined to answer questions on any subject from the House Oversight Committee this morning. In a brief opening (and closing) statement, Lerner traced her multi-decade career as a federal employee, asserted how "very proud" she is of her work, and claimed she did "nothing wrong," and committed no crime. She then invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, on the advice of her attorneys. Chairman Issa responded that he had no choice but to dismiss the witness, pending recall. South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy objected, stating that Lerner should be forced to sit through the hearing and answer members' questions, particularly because she'd chosen to offer her side of the story. Issa followed-up, asking if Lerner might answer certain questions on narrow subjects, such as her previous sworn testimony. She wouldn't answer that question either, so Issa dismissed her. Lerner bolted for the door. As she departed, Ohio Republican Jim Jordan noted the irony that Lerner could exercise her constitutional rights while countless Americans were being denied answers as to why their rights had been abused and violated.
The only other notable moment in the early session was Massachusetts Democrat Stephen Lynch's powerful opening statement. He warned the witnesses that continued "stone-walling" and obfuscation would force Congress to appoint a special prosecutor to the case. Coming from a Democrat, that's a big deal, especially because the president has publicly stated his opposition to a special counsel to investigate the IRS. Here's Lynch laying down the law:
Bear in mind, this statement came before Lerner refused to answer questions and left the room.
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