Norton Amendment to the Resolution. Full Committee Business Meeting

Jun 28, 2013
Press Release

Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute
to the Resolution of the Committee on

Oversight and Government Reform
Offered by Ms. Norton of the District of Columbia


Strike the entire text of the resolution and insert the following:



Whereas, on May 14, 2013, Rep. Darrell Issa, Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter publicly accusing IRS official Lois Lerner of criminal activity by providing Congress with “false or misleading information on four separate occasions” in 2012.

Whereas, the Chairman sent another letter on the same date inviting Ms. Lerner to testify at a hearing before the Committee on May 22, 2013.

Whereas, on May 17, 2013, the Chairman issued a subpoena that “commanded” Ms. Lerner “to testify” at the Committee’s hearing on May 22, 2013.

Whereas, on May 20, 2013, Ms. Lerner’s counsel sent a letter officially notifying the Committee that Ms. Lerner was invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, writing that Ms. Lerner “has not committed any crime or made any misrepresentation but under the circumstances she has no choice but to take this course.”

Whereas, on May 21, 2013, the Chairman wrote a letter to Ms. Lerner’s counsel stating that the subpoena “remains in effect” and “compels Ms. Lerner to appear before the Committee.”

Whereas, Ms. Lerner complied with the subpoena by appearing involuntarily at the public hearing on May 22, 2013, seated next to other witnesses as the Chairman required them to swear an oath to testify truthfully.

Whereas, Ms. Lerner again invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and professed her innocence by stating: “I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee.”

Whereas, on May 30, 2013, Ms. Lerner’s counsel provided the Committee with a detailed letter with extensive legal precedent explaining that “a witness compelled to appear and answer questions does not waive her Fifth Amendment privilege by giving testimony proclaiming her innocence.”

Whereas, Stan Brand, who served as House Counsel from 1976 to 1983, issued a statement concluding that “I do not believe that Ms. Lerner’s brief introductory profession of innocence, in which she offered no substantive testimony or evidence constitutes a waiver of her Fifth Amendment rights.

Whereas, the Committee has held no hearings to receive expert legal testimony on this Constitutional question; did not respond to the legal precedents provided by Ms. Lerner’s counsel; did not respond to an offer by Ms. Lerner’s counsel to testify before the Committee; declined to make available to all Committee Members a legal analysis on this matter provided to the Chairman by House Counsel; did not hold a meeting to allow Committee Members to hear directly from House Counsel on this matter; and adopted no report or other legal analysis of the applicable legal provisions and historical precedents.

Whereas, Ms. Lerner has information that is relevant to the Committee’s investigation, and it may be possible for reasonable people to disagree on the significant Constitutional question of whether Ms. Lerner’s statements constitute a waiver of her Fifth Amendment rights.

Resolved, that the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform determines that, in order to proceed in a considered and responsible manner in evaluating the claim that Ms. Lerner’s statements constituted a waiver of her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, the Committee intends to (1) hold a hearing to obtain testimony from legal experts, including Ms. Lerner’s counsel, on the applicable legal standards and historical precedents regarding Fifth Amendment protections for witnesses appearing before Congress; and (2) request a private meeting for all Committee Members to hear directly from House Counsel about his assessment of the legal provisions and historical precedents governing this matter.

113th Congress