Legal experts are questioning whether Lerner’s Fifth Amendment protections dissolved once she began talking on Wednesday, as Issa argues.
“I don’t think a brief introductory preface to her formal invocation of the privilege is a waiver,” said Stan Brand, who was the general counsel for the House of Representatives from 1976 to 1983
and works on ethics issues.
He said the bigger problem for Lerner may be that she has made herself available to Congress in the past.
“The more serious question is whether any of her earlier congressional appearances before other committees constituted a waiver,” Brand said. “That in turn may depend on whether any of those appearances were ‘compelled’ — that is, pursuant to a subpoena.”
He said the committee may ultimately pursue a contempt charge if Lerner continues to refuse to talk.
“Bottom line,” Brand said, “I think we will hear no more from Ms. Lerner” unless she is provided immunity.