Mr. Issa, in his letter, said Mr. Taylor has given markedly mixed signals about what he would agree to on behalf of his client.
Indeed, a House counsel’s memo from last month details the various offers Mr. Taylor made, including suggesting Ms. Lerner would testify if given a week’s delay in March, then taking that offer, “if that is what it was,” off the table. Asked specifically whether he had a request, Mr. Taylor said, “She will appear Wednesday.”
Several lawyers questioned Mr. Taylor’s handling of the situation from the start of the case, including Ms. Lerner’s initial speech asserting her innocence.
“Her lawyer was sitting behind her, and every other lawyer in town was cringing, watching the TV screen,” said one lawyer who asked not to be named, saying the legal community is small and tightly knit. But the lawyer said Mr. Taylor broke several basic rules for handling such situations, including letting his client speak and allowing his back-and-forth negotiations with Mr. Issa’s committee to be put in writing.
Mr. Taylor’s office declined to comment, but he has said he no longer trusted the House investigative process to be fair to Ms. Lerner.
A Democratic staffer said Mr. Issa has raised the prospects of a proffer, or agreement about the scope of information to be given, and that Mr. Taylor appeared ready to agree to one.
The staffer said that was what Mr. Cummings was trying to get to at the March 5 hearing, when Mr. Issa ended proceedings and cut off Mr. Cummings‘ microphone after Ms. Lerner again refused to testify.
Mr. Cummings has armed himself with legal evaluations from more than two dozen lawyers saying Ms. Lerner shouldn’t face contempt charges. Mr. Issa has the House counsel’s opinion saying she remains in jeopardy.
Stanley M. Brand, one of those who backed Mr. Cummings‘ reading, said if Republicans see the matter to the end, it will end up in court, where a final resolution likely would be years away.
“You have dueling lawyer opinions that don’t really mean anything of themselves. I include myself in that. What has to happen is it has to get to a court, and the only way it’s going to get to a court is if the full House of Representatives takes action to authorize litigation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Republicans on the oversight committee released a staff report disputing Democrats’ claims that the IRS targeted liberal groups, too.
The 141-page report says that while some liberal groups were caught up in the inappropriate scrutiny and delays, the vast majority of applications blocked were from tea party and other conservative organizations. Indeed, the first three “test” cases were all conservative groups.