Former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner, a central figure in the IRS scandal, will appear before Congress Wednesday after refusing to testify last year.
Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, told “Fox News Sunday” that Lerner’s lawyers said she will testify before his committee, after just stating last week that she would not.
“It’s going to be a good, fact-finding hearing,” he said.
Issa claimed he didn’t know why Lerner’s lawyers changed their mind, but did say Lerner testifying was “in her best interest,” referring to the recent and damning evidence uncovered by the committee.
Issa and Lerner’s attorneys have argued about whether she is protected under the Fifth Amendment from having to testify, an argument incited in May 2013 after Lerner gave an opening statement defending herself before taking the Fifth Amendment.
It was her first and only appearance in front of the House Oversight Committee, until now.
Lerner resigned last year from her role as the agency’s director of tax-exempt organizations after the leaking of emails showing Lerner conspiring with Obama donor, Holly Paz.
The House committee continued to investigate the IRS in its 2012 targeting of Tea Party groups and other politically conservative organizations trying to get tax-exempt status. Newly discovered email released by the House Ways and Means Committee conducting the IRS investigation reveal former IRS official Lois Lerner was integrating new rules in secret with Obama’s treasury officials.
Congressional investigators are trying to determine who exactly gave the orders for IRS agents to target the groups.
Issa said Sunday that Lerner was “in a powerful position and could have been acting alone.” Congressional documents also suggest that she was under political pressure to orchestrate the targeting.
However, safeguards against such situations should have been in place and Congress should work to put in “more checks and balances,” he also said.
Last week, Lerner attorney William Taylor said his client will testify on Capitol Hill only if compelled by a federal court or if given immunity for the testimony. South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy, an avid critic of the IRS since the beginning of the IRS scandal, made clear that he would vehemently oppose any deal that grants Lois Lerner immunity.
Taylor stated his position in a letter to Issa. He was responding to a letter Tuesday from Issa saying, in part, that Lerner’s testimony remains “critical to the committee’s investigation.”