- The Washington Times - Friday, March 21, 2014

Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are pressing the Department of Justice for more information about contact government lawyers reportedly made with Lois Lerner, the former IRS employee at the center of the scandal over the IRS’s targeting of tea party groups for special scrutiny.

The fresh push from committee chairman Darrell Issa of California and committee member Jim Jordan of Ohio is a signal the GOP will continue to pursue possible contempt charges against Ms. Lerner after she invoked the fifth amendment right against self-incrimination on two occasions when called before the committee.

“For over eight months, the committee has sought to carry out its oversight obligations in concert with the Department of Justice’s law-enforcement duties,” the congressmen wrote in a letter dated March 20. “At every stage, the department has refused to fully cooperate with the committee.”

“In light of recent reports that the department interviewed former IRS official Lois Lerner, we write to again request information about the administration’s investigation of the IRS targeting,” they wrote.

In the letter, they ask Mr. Holder for specific details about the department’s interview, as well as any communications between the department, other law enforcement agencies, Ms. Lerner or her counsel regarding immunity.

A spokesman for the Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this month, Mr. Issa had recalled Ms. Lerner to try to make her testify about her role in the IRS’s targeting of tea party groups for special scrutiny.

After Ms. Lerner refused to answer 10 separate questions, citing her right against self-incrimination, Mr. Issa gaveled the hearing closed.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the panel’s top Democrat, asked to be recognized and Mr. Issa said he would entertain a question, but when Mr. Cummings began a statement criticizing the IRS investigation, Mr. Issa had the microphones cut and left the room.

Mr. Cummings has recently circulated a legal analysis and said it appears that Mr. Issa’s conduct during the hearing voided the possibility of holding Ms. Lerner in contempt of Congress.

House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said last week that he and House counsel “reject the premise of Mr. Cummings’ letter.”

“I do not agree with that analysis in any way, shape or form,” Mr. Boehner said. “I’ve made clear on more than one occasion that Ms. Lerner should either testify or be held in contempt.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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