IRS official Lois Lerner to take the Fifth

Lois Lerner, the IRS official who first disclosed the agency's improper targeting of conservative groups two weeks ago, will invoke her right not to testify Wednesday for fear of self-incrimination, her lawyer has told the House Oversight Committee.

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Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

"The committee has been contacted by Ms. Lerner's lawyer who stated that his client intended to invoke her Fifth Amendment right and refuse to answer questions," said oversight spokesman Ali Ahmad.

Ahmad said Lerner, the head of the IRS's tax-exempt organizations division, would still be required to appear before the committee, which means she will have to plead the Fifth in person and on camera.

"Ms. Lerner remains under subpoena from Chairman Issa to appear at tomorrow's hearing -- the committee has a Constitutional obligation to conduct oversight," Ahmad said. "Chairman Issa remains hopeful that she will ultimately decide to testify tomorrow about her knowledge of outrageous IRS targeting of Americans for their political beliefs."

Lerner hasn't yet testified in the case, even as former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman and former acting IRS commission Steven Miller have.

The news was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

IRS officials and an inspector general have said that there is no evidence of criminal wrongdoing at this point. After news of Lerner invoking the Fifth broke, some Republicans cited it as proof that the law was broken.

Lerner is the IRS official who first acknowledged the wrongdoing at a legal conference and later that day held a conference call explaining what had happened. The Post's Fact Checker blog has given her statements Four Pinocchios -- signaling significant misstatements.

Updated at 4:52 p.m.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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