Congressman Ron DeSantis

Representing the 6th District of Florida
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Rep. DeSantis Statement on whether Lois Lerner Waived her 5th Amendment Rights

Jun 27, 2013
Blog Post

Last month, Lois Lerner from the IRS appeared before our Committee on Oversight and Government Reform regarding potentially false statements she made to Congress, as well as her use of her official position to punish conservative organizations. Lerner chose to make an opening statement in which she, while under oath, proclaimed her innocence as to all of the allegations that had been levied against her. She then invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions. She was dismissed from the hearing subject to recall.

Tomorrow, the Committee will hold a hearing to vote on whether Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination by providing her initial testimony. I will vote that she did, in fact, waive her Fifth Amendment rights and that she should be compelled to answer our questions or else be held in contempt of Congress.

The stunt Lerner tried to pull is not how the Founding Fathers envisioned the Fifth Amendment being used. If a witness could simply take the witness stand, swear an oath to tell the truth, claim they are innocent and then refuse to be cross-examined, the search for truth in a legal proceeding would be undermined. If she wanted to take the Fifth then she should have done so at the outset. Once she addressed the substance of the allegations she opened herself up to cross-examination.

Executive branch officials are not above the law or above oversight by the people's representatives. Lerner must answer the Committee's questions or else face the consequences.