Video: Lerner takes the Fifth — or did she?
posted at 12:41 pm on May 22, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
Via Andrew Johnson at NRO, Lois Lerner’s decision to take the Fifth came as no surprise. What did come as a surprise was that Lerner actually started off by, er, testifying on her own behalf. Surprisingly, Lerner accepted Darrell Issa’s invitation to deliver an opening statement under oath, and then testified to the provenance of a transcript of her deposition to the Inspector General. Only at that point did Lerner plead the Fifth:
That poses a big question as to whether Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights to avoid self-incrimination. Rep. Trey Gowdy argued that the law does not allow a witness to testify on her behalf and then refuse to answer any other questions:
After Lerner’s statements, Representative Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.) argued she “waved her right to Fifth Amendment privilege” by making those statements and urged that she stay and answer questions: ”You don’t get to tell your side of the story and then not be subjected to cross-examination.” Lerner was ultimately allowed to invoke her Fifth Amendment rights and leave the hearing.
Issa did allow Lerner to leave the hearing after asking her twice whether she’d be willing to answer questions on narrower grounds, to which Lerner twice refused. However, Issa warned her she’d be subject to recall — and that the committee would be consulting counsel about her use of the Fifth Amendment. I’d guess that nothing much will come of it, except perhaps to purge her opening statement from the record, but shouldn’t an attorney like Lerner have seen that trap coming a mile away? It might explain how Lerner thought the question-plant strategy was a good idea, too.