Surprise: Solyndra execs to take the Fifth at congressional hearings next week

That’s not what they said would happen last week. Remember? Philip Klein, September 13:

[GOP Rep. Cliff] Stearns, speaking to bloggers at the Heritage Foundation, said the executives called the committee staff yesterday and asked whether they would be allowed to delay their testimony until next week. If they were granted the additional time, they said they’d agree not to exercise their Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions.

“We’re a little flexible if they’ll come next week and testify freely and openly and transparently,” Stearns said. “I can’t say for sure, but most likely they’ll come next week and I think it would be very worthwhile for them to speak transparently and without taking the Fifth.”

Fast-forward a week and there are now four separate federal investigations into the company ongoing. Count ’em: (1) The FBI’s been probing in conjunction with the Department of Energy; (2) the Treasury Department launched its own inquiry just a few days ago; (3) the House Energy and Commerce Committee is the body that’s been negotiating with Solyndra execs to appear before it and testify; and (4) earlier today Darrell Issa said his House Oversight Committee would start looking into the matter. That’s a lot of heat for a busted solar firm to absorb. And so, the inevitable:

Solyndra LLC’s chief executive and chief financial officer will invoke their Fifth Amendment rights and decline to answer any questions put to them at a Congressional hearing on Friday, according to letters from their attorneys obtained by Reuters.

In the letters sent to the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, attorneys for Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison and CFO W. G. Stover said they advised their clients not to provide testimony during the hearings.

How excited do you think the White House is, with public interest in Solyndra’s sweetheart federal loan peaking, for these two to decline to answer questions in full view of cable news cameras on grounds that doing so might place them in legal jeopardy? I can already see the YouTube montages — 20 or 30 iterations of “on the advice of counsel, I assert my Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination” all stitched together, maybe with a photo of Obama looking constipated overlaid while the audio plays. Chop chop, RNC ad team!

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