U.S. Internal Revenue Service. (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/NLJ.)
Republican lawmakers on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are pressing Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. for details about whether former IRS official Lois Lerner waived her right against self-incrimination when she spoke to investigators.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the committee chairman, and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, sent a letter to Holder on Thursday asking for information about Lerner, the former Internal Revenue Service director of exempt organizations who has refused to testify on Capitol Hill.
Issa is considering contempt proceedings against Lerner as part of the committee’s investigation into accusations that the IRS unfairly targeted certain political groups that applied for tax-exempt status. The Justice Department is also investigating the accusations.
Citing a March 6 article in The Wall Street Journal, Issa said Lerner “gave a lengthy interview” with Justice Department lawyers without a grant of immunity. She has twice refused to testify before Congress under the advice of her attorney, William Taylor III of Zuckerman Spaeder.
Issa wants Holder to answer questions about whether Lerner invoked her right against self-incrimination during the interview with the Justice Department, and whether she refused to answer any questions. He also asked about when and where any interview took place, and which Justice Department lawyers took part in the questioning.
Stephen Ryan, the head of the government strategies-practice group at McDermott Will & Emery, said the Justice Department is unlikely to respond in full. “The Department of Justice traditionally doesn’t give Congress information about pending investigations,” Ryan said.