Lerner’s attorney demands immunity for testimony

posted at 11:21 am on July 3, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Call this a dissonant note in the public defense of Lois Lerner.  The IRS executive fumbled an attempt to provide cover for an IG report on political targeting in the agency that ended up making the situation worse.  When called to testify, Lerner declared that she was innocent of any crime, and to prove it, she took the Fifth as soon as the House Oversight Committee finished listening to her opening statement.  Facing a recall after Oversight ruled that she had effectively waived her right to remain silent, Lerner’s attorney insists that she did nothing wrong — but to answer questions about it, Lerner needs a grant of immunity from prosecution:

Embattled IRS official Lois Lerner will not testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee unless she’s given immunity from prosecution, her lawyer told POLITICO Tuesday.

“They can obtain her testimony tomorrow by doing it the easy way … immunity,” William W. Taylor III said in a phone interview. “That’s the way to resolve all of this.” …

“The committee is entitled to Ms. Lerner’s full and truthful testimony without further conditions,” said panel spokesman Frederick Hill in a statement to POLITICO. “If, however, Ms. Lerner’s attorney is interested in discussing limited immunity, the committee will listen.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), a senior oversight Republican helping oversee the IRS investigation, said the panel is still hopeful she’ll come to the committee on her own free will, arguing that questions of immunity and contempt are “down the road.”

“We hope she comes in and gives us the truth and answers questions,” Jordan said in a brief phone interview Tuesday. “If that doesn’t happen, then you cross the next bridge. … If she says, ‘No, I’m going to come in and assert my Fifth Amendment rights again and not going to speak,’ then you think about what the other options are.”

Legally, a jury is not allowed to presume guilt on the basis of an exercise of the Fifth Amendment, although that doesn’t bind anyone else from using it in their calculations.  A demand for immunity is another kettle of fish altogether.  That suggests that Lerner actually does have information that could lead to her prosecution if she discloses it — from her own perspective.  Otherwise, why demand immunity at all?  She could just as well keep her mouth shut.

That makes it sound as though Lerner’s giving a strong hint to the committee that they should be negotiating with her for this testimony.  No prosecutor would make an immunity offer without first getting a proffer on what the witness has to disclose. Few witnesses or their attorneys would demand immunity without having something to tell, either, and without that “something” pointing at bigger fish to fry than themselves.

Will those negotiations take place before the next public appearance of Lerner? Probably not; the committee was understandably annoyed by Lerner’s performance the last time, and they’ll want to force her to endure another round before they get serious about determining whether a grant of immunity will prove worthwhile.  Also, an immunity demand from a still-on-the-payroll, high-ranking member of the executive branch bureaucracy has to stick in the craw of a committee that has a right to the information Lerner holds without cutting deals. The fact that answers aren’t forthcoming from Lerner or her superiors is a big problem, constitutionally speaking, in and of itself.


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Comment pages: 1 2

If she did nothing wrong – why does she need immunity ?

ashiya on July 3, 2013 at 1:42 PM

]
Exactly. I suspect that they’re playing both sides here. On the one hand, they’ll claim that there is no law preventing IRS from targeting whomever they deem appropriate to target. On the other hand they’ll provide testimony that, yes, they specifically targeted conservatives as a political tool.

The real question is if Lerner will be a loyal Obama soldier and use the immunity to protect everyone by saying it was all her idea. Given the way Obama has insulated himself with loyal subjects, my money’s on that. I doubt she will rollover and give any testimony that implicates the administration, even with immunity.

They’ve gotten cocky in Democratic DC.

hisfrogness on July 3, 2013 at 1:53 PM

…and Zimmerman is the only one alive who knows who approached who.. and he say Trayvon approached him.
 
melle1228 on June 28, 2013 at 1:57 PM

 
And your suggestion is that we should just believe him because a murderer trying to avoid jail time is credible?
 
libfreeordie on June 28, 2013 at 1:59 PM

rogerb on July 3, 2013 at 1:55 PM

For ‘terrorizing’ American tax payers, declare her to be a TERRORIST, take her to Gitmo. & waterboard the truth/info out of her!

easyt65 on July 3, 2013 at 2:04 PM

“Demands”? She works for us, the the American people! Talk woman, then Fire and prosecute her!

zap-johnson on July 3, 2013 at 2:12 PM

Few witnesses or their attorneys would demand immunity without having something to tell, either, and without that “something” pointing at bigger fish to fry than themselves.

Lerner’s lawyers have demonstrated their incompetence. It is a mistake to presume their tactics reflect anything else. They may be making rational decisions here, but there is no reason to assume they are.

novaculus on July 3, 2013 at 2:33 PM

The real question is if Lerner will be a loyal Obama soldier and use the immunity to protect everyone by saying it was all her idea. Given the way Obama has insulated himself with loyal subjects, my money’s on that. I doubt she will rollover and give any testimony that implicates the administration, even with immunity.

They’ve gotten cocky in Democratic DC.

hisfrogness on July 3, 2013 at 1:53 PM

I’d bet on that as well.

Wendya on July 3, 2013 at 2:37 PM

If she has anything truly damaging on the Obama administration, she will not be spilling it. They’ll do a Kevin O’Reilly on her. (In case you’d forgotten that name from Fast & Furious, she’ll suddenly be posted to a foreign embassy — probably with a promotion and a raise.)

arhooley on July 3, 2013 at 2:37 PM

Immunity from what? In her cowardly comments before really really pleading the 5th, she said no one did anything wrong. Did she perjure in the before the 5th, I’m really really pleading the 5th now comments.

smoothsailing on July 3, 2013 at 2:40 PM

Lerner’s attorney demands immunity for testimony

Lerner testified that she had broken no rules or laws in any fashion, why would she need immunity?

RJL on July 3, 2013 at 2:45 PM

Put her in PRISON FIRST, then give her immunity to testify.
Like AMNESTY vs. Border Control – the order of things matters.

TeaPartyNation on July 3, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Most honest, most open, most transparent administration, evah!

Valarie Jarrett probably wants to know what names will be dropped in exchange for immunity.

GarandFan on July 3, 2013 at 3:14 PM

That sound we just heard is the facade cracking.

Kissmygrits on July 3, 2013 at 3:19 PM

Since she’s already waived her Fifth Amendment rights, if she doesn’t come ready to incriminate Obama, Holder, AND Jarrett, then throw her in a Federal prison for a month and bring her back. Repeat the process until she is more willing to speak.

xmanvietnam on July 3, 2013 at 3:25 PM

Begin a criminal investigation immediately. Seize all her computers and analyze all her email accounts, including the aliases. Get the NSA data on her calls, etc.

Immunity, NO!
Plea bargain… maybe.
Spill your guts and we’ll see about limiting how much prison time you get, bee-otch!

Dexter_Alarius on July 3, 2013 at 4:30 PM

Unles has proof of White House evolvement no immunity.
Hang her high!

losarkos on July 3, 2013 at 4:50 PM

Lerner’s attorney demands immunity for testimony

In Related news, Johnnie Cochran demands immunity for O.J. Simpson’s testimony.

LegendHasIt on July 3, 2013 at 5:03 PM

Tools from the sandbox.
A very effective tool for getting information from a reluctant witness is…..
A small, battery operated, screw gun with a 1/2″ spade bit, placed just below the kneecap….works every time.
III

dirtengineer on July 3, 2013 at 6:55 PM

Fire her!

Then she either quietly excepts, or she goes to court to defend herself and tell all without immunity.

jpcpt03 on July 3, 2013 at 7:39 PM

And your suggestion is that we should just believe him because a murderer trying to avoid jail time is credible?

libfreeordie on June 28, 2013 at 1:59 PM

Yes, why not…OJ Simpson was pretty credible too, no? :) …

jimver on July 3, 2013 at 9:43 PM

Considering what else is happening to the Constitution I would not call this a big constitutional problem. And I’m curious what she has to say.

David Blue on July 3, 2013 at 11:56 PM

The evil bureaucratic scumbags always get away. They only get theirs in the movies.

RdLake on July 4, 2013 at 7:18 AM

Stop! History shows how immunity for underlings is not a good idea for the ones trying to find the answers. Look at what Ollie North did for Reagan. He took the fall for the entire iran/contra situation. I am not blasting Ollie. I think he did the right thing, however the situation here is a mirror image. This immunity thing is a bad idea.

Molonlabe2004 on July 4, 2013 at 10:01 AM

At the most, she should be given immunity for her testimony, not for wrong doing. That is, what she says cannot be used against her, but if wrongdoing is uncovered independent of her testimony, she’s still liable for the consequences.

In any case, she should be dismissed from her current paid vacation at the IRS immediately.

NeoCon_1 on July 4, 2013 at 11:41 AM

Give her all the immunity she wants. There definitely are bigger fish to fry. Her testimony will finish her career and confirm much of what we already suspect—and maybe more—which is good enough for me. But let’s have a couple of good teasers first.

stillings on July 4, 2013 at 5:42 PM

We desperately need a low making pleading the fifth an resignation from government jobs that includes forfeiture of all benefits and having to pay back all wages. They have clearly not been doing the job right in the first place.
For government employes may pleading the fifth about how they were doing their job should be more painful than going to prison.

Slowburn on July 5, 2013 at 7:43 AM

http://abovethelaw.com/tag/william-w-taylor-iii/

Lerner’s Lawyer defends all kinds of scumbags.

MarkT on July 5, 2013 at 10:37 AM

Comment pages: 1 2