Yesterday while I was giving my wife her belated mothers day gift of a Drive to Maine to visit fabric stores Lois Lerner went before the House committee investigating the IRS scandal.
The Video is not a good image for the White House and will surely be part of many a GOP ad as 2014 closes. Even worse the topic is one almost impossible to defend without looking the fool and too many on the left are not willing to be that foolish in public.
If the Goal is to defend the administration and to rally their supporters the subject HAS to be changed, but how?
Lois Lerner provided the solution by making a speech rather than just simply invoking her Fifth Amendment rights prompting this from Rep Trey Gowdy:
Mr. Issa, Mr. Cummings just said we should run this like a courtroom, and I agree with him. She just testified. She just waived her Fifth Amendment right to privilege. You don’t get to tell your side of the story and then not be subjected to cross examination. That’s not the way it works. She waived her Fifth Amendment privilege by issuing an open statement. She ought to stand here and answer our questions.
And Rep Issa seems to agree:
“House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said embattled IRS official Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights and will be hauled back to appear before his panel again. The California Republican said Lerner’s Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination was voided when she gave an opening statement this morning denying any wrongdoing and professing pride in her government service.”
and that has started a whole new debate:
Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the Oversight committee, also said he didn’t think Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment protections.
“I don’t think her counsel would have allowed her to give a statement knowing that the very purpose of him being here — for her to assert her fifth amendment rights — would be damaged if she made a statement,” he told reporters.
But Paul Rothstein, a law professor at Georgetown University, disagreed saying she “has run a very grave risk of having waived her right to refuse to testify on the details of things she has already generally talked about.”
I drove back from Maine Wednesday I heard lawyer after lawyer today marvel at the supposed legal mistake of Lerner’s team, suggesting this was first year law school stuff. If this was simply about a criminal case they would have a point, but they’re misreading the situation. They assume this was a mistake.
Mrs. Lerner is not a fool, nor is her legal team, it is inconceivable they would allow her to put herself in legal jeopardy without foreknowledge, unless they had something else in mind like perhaps changing the subject
What happens when Issa brings her back and the questions begin? Could be that she’ll cave and start answering, but I assume her lawyer will tell her to take the Fifth again, in which case it’s Issa’s move. He could try to hold her in contempt, which would probably ignite a court battle and would certainly ignite lots of media concern-trolling about the GOP crushing Lerner’s rights as a way to change the subject from the underlying scandal. The court battle would slow down the investigation and might spark a bit of public sympathy for Lerner and the IRS
Suddenly the the video that the MSM had little time for above will be replaced. Instead of a Lois Lerner the woman who helped Target the Tea Party with the IRS to rob them of their Constitutional rights, we will have the image of woman defending hers in front of congress. Instead of both parties talking about the IRS disgrace the vote on compelling testimony will be along party lines.
The left will have a whole new narrative that they can discuss for months. Millions of pixels and barrels of ink will be devoted to the court case and on MSNBC, CNN and and the Sunday Shows on all the networks will have person after person saying “of course what the IRS did was wrong but there is no more sacred right than the 5th Amendment and no matter what Ms. Lerner might have done the GOP has no business trying to deprive her of her rights”. In fact the Obama Administration need never be mentioned.
Which is, in my opinion, exactly what was intended when she took the stand Wednesday morning.
The congress however doesn’t have to fall for the trap. If Issa is smart, he will delay re-calling Lerner. He will instead continue the investigation beginning with the lowest level person in Cincinnati and building the case from the bottom up, then, and only then, when the case has been made before both the congress, the courts and the public and then, and only then, should she be called back to play legal games and maintain her silence of facts already in evidence.
Update: Hogewash notes the actual words of Miranda:
If You Give Up Your Right to Remain Silent anything you say may be used in court against you.
That’s the way a Miranda warning goes. Didn’t Lois Lerner’s lawyer tell her?
That’s exactly why I think it’s a setup
Lerner might have succeeded in slowing down the process in congress, but she isn’t responsible for the slow week that DaTipJar has suffered thus far.
You can solve that problem, if 14 of you can find $20 to spare before Saturday this week’s $300 paycheck can be achieved and this month’s mortgage will be paid.
As always it’s up to you.