IRS official takes the Fifth: "I have not done anything wrong"

At a House hearing, Lois Lerner invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions

By Jillian Rayfield

Published May 22, 2013 3:31PM (EDT)

In a hearing before the House Oversight Committee, Lois Lerner, the IRS official charged with overseeing groups with tax-exempt status, invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions, telling lawmakers: "I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations and have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee.

"And while I would very much like to answer the committee's questions today," she continued, "I've been advised by my counsel to assert my constitutional right not to testify or answer questions related to the subject matter of this hearing. After very careful consideration, I've decided to follow my counsel's advice and not testify or answer any of the questions today."

Committee chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., then excused Lerner. Several other witnesses, including former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman, are also scheduled to answer questions at the hearing, regarding the IRS's targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.


Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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