IRS official: “I’m totally innocent, but I want immunity!”

**Posted by Phineas

Remember Lois Lerner? She’s one of the IRS officials (currently on vacation paid suspension) at the center of the IRS scandal* involving the targeting of Tea Party and other conservative groups for “special attention” when they applied for 501(c) status, attention that amounted to suppressing their First Amendment rights and unequal treatment under the law.

Lerner appeared before the House Oversight Committee, claimed she did nothing wrong, and then invoked her Fifth Amendment rights. House Republicans claimed she waived those rights by making an opening assertion of innocence, and the committee voted to subpoena her.

Now she’s demanding immunity:

Embattled IRS official Lois Lerner will not testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee unless she’s given immunity from prosecution, her lawyer told POLITICO Tuesday.

“They can obtain her testimony tomorrow by doing it the easy way … immunity,” William W. Taylor III said in a phone interview. “That’s the way to resolve all of this.”

Her lawyer says they can win the waiver issue in any court, which begs the question then of why she needs immunity to testify.

Of course, invoking the Fifth Amendment is not proof of guilt. It can also be a shield against rogue prosecutions, the kind we’ve seen in the Duke rape case and (it increasingly seems) the Zimmerman murder trial.

But… Come on. Lerner and the IRS already admitted misbehavior by opening this whole can of worms with the initial apology, and then she took the Fifth and demanded immunity.

As smoke indicates fire, guilty behavior is a sign of guilt? Seems to me she knows she has a reason to want immunity, and it isn’t fear of wrongful prosecution.

But Lerner, for all her arrogance, is only a mid-level target; we want the people above her, the ones who actually came up with this scheme. I say grant her immunity on condition she tells everything.

I bet then we’ll see a lot more wanting the same deal.

*(On top of all their other scandals, lately.)

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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