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    DOJ lets Lois Lerner off the contempt hook

    DOJ lets Lois Lerner off the contempt hook

    Finds she didn’t waive her 5th Amendment privilege.

    You all remember Lois Lerner’s contemptuous refusal to testify before a House Committee after she gave an opening statement in which she effectively testified to her defense.

    The House sought a DOJ prosecution for contempt.

    News that will shock no one, DOJ will not prosecute.

    Politico reports:

    The Justice Department will not seek criminal contempt charges against former IRS official Lois Lerner, the central figure in a scandal that erupted over whether the tax agency improperly targeted conservative political groups.

    Ronald Machen, the former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, told House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in a seven-page letter this week that he would not bring a criminal case to a grand jury over Lerner’s refusal to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in March 2014. The House approved a criminal contempt resolution against Lerner in May 2014, and Machen’s office has been reviewing the issue since then.

    Lerner cited her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself during congressional testimony on March 5, 2014, although then-Oversight Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said she had waived that right by giving an opening statement at a hearing 10 months earlier when she asserted her innocence. Issa wanted her charged by the Justice Department with criminal contempt of Congress for failing to answer questions about her role in the scandal….

    However, Machen said DOJ lawyers determined that Lerner “did not waive her Fifth Amendment right by making an opening statement on May 22, 2013, because she made only a general claims of innocence.”
    Machen added: “Given that assessment, we have further concluded that it is not appropriate for a United States attorney to present the matter to the grand jury for action where, as here, the Constitution prevents the witness from being prosecuted for contempt.”

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    Owego | April 2, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    Just a citizen so, what do I know? Nevertheless, it seems to me that the real “victims” here (how I hate to use that word) are Congress and the country. It’s a certainty that contempt for Lerner, her superiors, and her minions is deep, widespread, and appropriate. This ruling seems certain to embolden contempt for The Legislature in two places; among those in government like her and within its agencies and bureaucracies against whom we have no other recourse than to turn to the legislature when needed; and in the population at large whose disgust with Congress is now almost universally low. The Lerners of the world see it as a toothless, annoying nuisance and voters see it as just plain toothless. It is not a good thing for the country.

    Okay, citizen done – lawyers and attorneys can now proceed.


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