The dam protecting the IRS scandal began to crack today when Lois Lerner, the IRS official who announced, and apologized for, the improper singling out of conservative-leaning organizations by IRS employees under her command, announced through her criminal defense lawyer that she will not testify as scheduled tomorrow before the House Oversight Committee. Rather, she will assert her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
This marks a milestone in the IRS investigation. It can now be taken as more or less established that crimes were committed by Obama administration employees. Lerner’s lawyer tried to minimize the significance of her invoking the privilege against self-incrimination by saying that since law enforcement authorities have announced they are pursuing a criminal investigation, she had no choice. This is silly: people testify before Senate committees and grand juries when there is a criminal investigation going on, all the time. The ones who plead the Fifth are those who cannot answer questions honestly without confessing to serious crimes.
More information has come out about Ms. Lerner, too. It turns out that in her prior position at the Federal Elections Commission, Lerner was obsessed with religious organizations and their religious practices, some of which she apparently wanted to suppress. Mark Hemingwayhas the scoop: