Lerner Takes the Fifth

Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the IRS controversy over the targeting of Tea Party groups, took the fifth amendment again today, causing a contentious end to the hearings. There’s been a lot of foolishness thrown around in the wake of this. I’ll point you, once again, to Ken at Popehat

I’ve been seeing a lot of comments to the effect of “why should Lois Lerner take the Fifth if she has nothing to hide?” Ironically these comments often come from people who profess to oppose expansive government power, and from people who accept the proposition that Lerner was part of wrongdoing in the first place — in other words, that there was a government conspiracy to target people with the machinery of the IRS for holding unpopular political views. Such people do not seem to grasp how their predicate assumptions answer their own question.

You take the Fifth because the government can’t be trusted. You take the Fifth because what the truth is, and what the government thinks the truth is, are two very different things. You take the Fifth because even if you didn’t do anything wrong your statements can be used as building blocks in dishonest, or malicious, or politically motivated prosecutions against you. You take the Fifth because if you answer questions truthfully the government may still decide you are lying and prosecute you for lying.

Pardon me: if you accept the proposition that the government targets organizations for IRS scrutiny because of their political views, and you still say things like “why take the Fifth if you have nothing to hide”, then you’re either an idiot or a dishonest partisan hack.

Ken also gets into whether Lerner making a statement effectively waived her fifth amendment rights. The answer is that it’s not clear: court precedent is a bit murky on the subject. As I am devoted to an expansive view of civil liberties, I would err on the side of her not having waived her fifth amendment rights. I despise government weasel efforts to get around the clear intention of our Constitutional liberties. Saying she waived her rights is the kind of government lawyer trick I despise.

Watching the proceedings, however, I was struck by a parallel to the Iran-Contra Affair and, in particular, Ollie North. North’s testimony was compelled by granting him immunity because the Democrats were absolutely determined to get Ronald Reagan. When it turned out that Reagan hadn’t done anything wrong (at least nothing that could be proven beyond Democratic ranting and raving), they prosecuted North anyway. His conviction was thrown out since it’s rare that courts allow compelled testimony to be used against someone and you really can’t revoke an immunity agreement because you didn’t get what you wanted.

For what it’s worth, I think we’re seeing a similar drama play out now. The wrong-doing — at least that which can be proven — is primary confined to Lerner’s office. The Administration might have known or suspected what was going on, but there is no provable link (and before you say it, the IRS commissioner did not meet with Obama 157 times). And let’s face it: given the cult of personality built up around Obama and the culture of corruption that is rife in his government, it’s utterly believable that government flacks were acting on their own to advance the Administration’s political interests. It wouldn’t be the first time or the tenth time the Administration has let a part of the government “go rogue” because it benefitted them.

I think the Republicans know this. If they suspected they could get Obama, they would have granted Lerner immunity a year ago to get her testimony. But if the only person that Lerner’s testimony would burn is Lerner, there’s little political value to it. So every now and then, they hold a hearing, make some noise and go home.

And that’s a pity. Apart from wasting time and money, it does little to illuminate how this happened, how it can be prevented in the future and what oversights need to be put into place. This isn’t a game. The IRS wields a scary amount of power over the individual, including the ability to confiscate assets without a conviction. Whether this business hurts the President or not is kind of a side issue. If employees of the IRS are using the formidable power of the agency to advance any political agenda — whether directed by the White House or not — this is something that can’t be stopped fast enough.

(The behavior of the Democrats and their allies, of course, is utterly contemptible. They are still trying to pretend that this isn’t a scandal or, worse, that it was justified because the Tea Party is trying to destroy America. Even the bacteria in my stomach can see that they would be screaming the heavens down if this were a Republican Administration. It’s disgusting.)

Lerner should be granted immunity. If you think this was directed by the puppet master Obama, she could get immunity so we can prove it. If you think this was a rogue office advancing a political agenda with the Administration looking the other way, she could get immunity so we can figure out how to stop it. If you think is a whole lot of nothing — you possibly being an Obama Defense Derangement Syndrome sufferer who doesn’t care about the rule of law as long as the Tea Party gets it in the ass — she could get immunity so that this goes away.

I don’t like saying that since, as I noted, I think Lerner is probably the chief villain in this saga. But I would much rather get to the truth and prevent this from happening again than drag this out for another year in the vain hope that we will, one day, be able to nail her hide to the wall.

Comments are closed.

  1. Xetrov

    The part of the fifth that she is trying to make use of states –

    nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself

    This pasage in the fifth protects people from self incrimination. If she did nothing wrong as she insisted in her first opening statement, then she can’t by definition plead the fifth.

    Never mind that a congressional hearing isn’t a criminal case, and thus the fifth shouldn’t apply (yeah, yeah, I know there’s precedent, it still makes no rational sense to apply it in this usage).

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  2. Hal_10000 *

    1) Lerner is in public. If she says anything incriminating, it will be used against her and will be admissible, just as if I went on TV and confessed to murder. And Congress can compel her to talk unless she invokes her fifth amendment rights. It has long been recognized that people can invoke their fifth amendment rights in these circumstances. I see no reason to revisit that.

    2) See what Ken wrote above. I would invoke my fifth amendment rights too since even if you haven’t done anything wrong and tell the truth, that won’t prevent a ruinous prosecution (remember last week that defending yourself from federal charges can run hundreds of thousands of dollars). I would especially invoke it because it would be just like this Administration to cut a lower level person loose and prosecute the shit out of them to make it seem like they’re doing something about the problem.

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  3. Xetrov

    1) If she did nothing incriminating, she can’t say anything incriminating, thus it can’t be used against her, and there wont be anything she could possibly say that would be admissible, because there isn’t anything to prosecute.

    2) The Fifth Amendment doesn’t say it protects from a ruinous prosecution, other laws should protect against that, so taking the fifth to try to eliminate the possibility of a hypothetical prosecution shouldn’t apply. And this doesn’t matter if she in deed did nothing wrong as her opening statement claimed.

    By definition, she can only claim fifth amendment protection if she did in fact break the law, and thus can’t be forced to incriminate herself. So either she needs to say that she retracts her previous opening statement, and blanket takes the fifth, or she needs to answer the questions since there is nothing illegal about what was done. She can’t have her cake and eat it too.

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  4. Hal_10000 *

    She can’t have her cake and eat it too.

    People can say whatever they want when they are not under oath. If you read Ken’s post, they can testify at one trial and invoke the fifth in other proceedings. They can answer some questions and refuse to answer others. The fifth amendment provides pretty broad protection against self-incrimination. It is usually up to the witness to decide when to invoke it. This is not unusual at all. If I’m accused of murder, I can proclaim my innocence but still refuse to testify.

    As it happens, I think she did do something wrong. Which is why, if we want her testimony, we have to give her immunity.

    Frankly, you guys are sounding like the “what have you got to hide” brigade that appears every time someone exercise their Fifth Amendment rights. The question is not “what has she got to hide”. The question is “can she refuse to answer questions”. Without an immunity guarantee, she can, even if she’s done nothing wrong. She doesn’t need to prove her own guilt first. That’s circular logic.

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  5. Seattle Outcast

    She’s going to keep her mouth shut and ride it out. Nobody takes congress very seriously even at the best of times, and she knows that Jarrett/Obama will take care of her once this runs its course.

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  6. richtaylor365

    I find it interesting that the same people decreeing Lerner’s 5th Amendment invocation are the same folks that, in the face of the NSA/CIA/FBI or local police peppering them with questions would proudly proclaim ,”I ain’t telling them shit”.

    I despise government weasel efforts to get around the clear intention of our Constitutional liberties. Saying she waived her rights is the kind of government lawyer trick I despise.

    And what I despise is the cheap defense lawyer trick of getting his client to make 17 separate declarative statements as to her innocence and non involvement, then once she gets to poison the well, clams up and takes the 5th, talk about manipulating Constitutional liberties.

    it’s utterly believable that government flacks were acting on their own to advance the Administration’s political interests.

    Totally plausible, but what is equally plausible was that the impetus for them “going rogue” was a subtle hint (or a verbal directive) to do their patriotic duty and scrutinize these obvious scofflaws of liberty, those that threaten our very way of life, to the best of their ability, and don’t worry, we got your backs on our end.

    But I would much rather get to the truth and prevent this from happening again than drag this out for another year in the vain hope that we will, one day, be able to nail her hide to the wall.

    Come on Hal, you know that all things are political. The Republicans are taking a cue from the rascals on the other side, any and all events can be run through the filter of politics and used to your benefit. That is how you turn a terrorist attack into a spontaneous demonstration over a video, thus bolstering your idiotic claim that AQ is on the run. That is how you take the most pernicious and partisan law and water it down with waivers and delays to the point that it’s true pain will not be felt until after the election. And that is how you allow an autocrat AG to emulate his autocrat boss and decide for himself what laws he likes (what part of the Constitution he agrees with) and discard the rest. You may think that the committee has reached a dead end, but the investigation must continue, not only for the purposes of politics (keeping it fresh in the minds of the voters come November) but mostly because the conduct is still continuing. The Tea Party non profits are still getting wedgies from the IRS.

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  7. louctiel

    By definition, she can only claim fifth amendment protection if she did in fact break the law, and thus can’t be forced to incriminate herself.

    Absolutely not.

    The Fifth Amendment makes no claim as to the content of the testimony. It only says that a person may not be compelled to testify against themselves.

    If there was no criminal activity or incriminating evidence, why plead the 5th?

    Because she can.

    Look, I think Lerner is complicit in all of this IRS stuff, but the fact of the matter is that it is up to the investigators and the government to make their case against her. She is under no obligation to talk to or answer their questions when she is at least part of the subject of that investigation.

    If Lerner cannot invoke the Fifth Amendment (let’s assume here opening statement did not waive the Fifth Amendment right) then when a cop talks to you, or when a cop interrogates you, you have no rights under the Miranda decision. It is the same principle.

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  8. Xetrov

    Absolutely not.

    The Fifth Amendment makes no claim as to the content of the testimony. It only says that a person may not be compelled to testify against themselves.

    If you want to get technical, tell me how this qualifies as a “criminal case” as stated in the fifth amendment.

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  9. louctiel

    If you want to get technical, tell me how this qualifies as a “criminal case” as stated in the fifth amendment.

    Congress has the power to investigate criminal activities within the government. The results of that investigation may be turned over to other law enforcement agencies for actual prosecution, but there is little doubt that when members of Congress are alleging criminal activity in the actions of the IRS that this is not a “criminal case.”

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  10. Xetrov

    Congress has the power to investigate criminal activities within the government.

    And yet a congressional hearing is not a ‘criminal case’ as defined by Article three of the Constitution.

    Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.

    The results of that investigation may be turned over to other law enforcement agencies for actual prosecution

    At which point the person could then claim fifth amendment protection during that prosecution since it would be an actual “criminal case” at that point. You could possibly argue that testimony given inside of a congressional hearing is inadmissible to the criminal case due to fifth amendment protection. But using the actual wording of the amendment (which is what you wanted to use), there is no “criminal case”, so there is no fifth amendment protection.

    but there is little doubt that when members of Congress are alleging criminal activity in the actions of the IRS that this is not a “criminal case.”

    Let’s see, how did you put it? Absolutely not. A congressional hearing has nothing to do with a “criminal case” as defined by the Constitution.

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  11. louctiel

    And yet a congressional hearing is not a ‘criminal case’ as defined by Article three of the Constitution.

    So let’s see…. the Fifth Amendment provides protection in a criminal case (which the SCOTUS has ruled includes investigations) but you want to cite what is a criminal trial. I am not following your logic.

    Under your thinking, a person could be pulled over by the police and would be forced to answer the question “were you speeding?” Or “how much did you have to drink tonight?” because their investigation into a potential criminal case is the same as a criminal trial.

    At which point the person could then claim fifth amendment protection during that prosecution since it would be an actual “criminal case” at that point.

    Please see the Miranda case where harmful statements made to investigators may be used against a person in a criminal trial. Furthermore, the testimony before Congress is transcribed and made under oath. The person may not be compelled to testify at a trial, but their statements made under oath before Congress could (and would) be used against them at the trial.

    A person may not be compelled to offer statements against themselves and it doesn’t matter where or when.

    A congressional hearing has nothing to do with a “criminal case” as defined by the Constitution.

    Once again, a criminal case is not a criminal trial.

    Statements made under oath in another proceeding or even to law enforcement are admissible in the trial and thus the SCOTUS has ruled that the Fifth Amendment applies to investigations.

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  12. Xetrov

    So let’s see…. the Fifth Amendment provides protection in a criminal case (which the SCOTUS has ruled includes investigations) but you want to cite what is a criminal trial.

    Oh, you want to get even more pedantic. Ok. Have fun with that.

    Under your thinking

    Not my thinking. You were the one that insisted we use what the fifth amendment actually says. I’m just pointing out the absurd level it can be taken to. Going back to the original premise of the discussion, if she did nothing illegal, she has no protection from the fifth amendment, because she can’t incriminate herself.

    Once again, a criminal case is not a criminal trial.

    Absolute not. (that’s fun)

    Can you point out where else the Constitution defines “criminal case” as being separate from a “criminal trial”?

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  13. Xetrov

    Statements made under oath in another proceeding or even to law enforcement are admissible in the trial and thus the SCOTUS has ruled that the Fifth Amendment applies to investigations.

    I know that. As I said yesterday –

    (yeah, yeah, I know there’s precedent, it still makes no rational sense to apply it in this usage)

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  14. louctiel

    You were the one that insisted we use what the fifth amendment actually says. I’m just pointing out the absurd level it can be taken to. Going back to the original premise of the discussion, if she did nothing illegal, she has no protection from the fifth amendment, because she can’t incriminate herself.

    You can assert that all you want but it is not what the Fifth Amendment says and it is not what the SCOTUS has interpreted it to say.

    Can you point out where else the Constitution defines “criminal case” as being separate from a “criminal trial”?

    Can you point out where the “Constitution” defines “Constitution?”

    I am sorry if you cannot (more likely will not) see that “case” and “trial” are not the same thing.

    (yeah, yeah, I know there’s precedent, it still makes no rational sense to apply it in this usage)

    Why?

    Since you seem to be all “show me this,” please show us where the Fifth Amendment says anything about the content of the statement a person may make in a case against themselves.

    By your thinking, (and it has been echoed here in this thread) a person invoking the Fifth Amendment would be assumed to be hiding something illegal or illegal activity. You could have a prosecutor stand in front of a jury and say “THEY WON’T TAKE THE STAND BECAUSE THEY ARE GUILTY!”

    Because of that reasoning, no assumption may be made on the guilt or innocence of someone who invokes their rights under the Fifth Amendment.

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  15. Argive

    Going back to the original premise of the discussion, if she did nothing illegal, she has no protection from the fifth amendment, because she can’t incriminate herself.

    The Supreme Court has consistently held that the Fifth Amendment applies to the innocent as well as the guilty. It’s not a matter of whether you committed the crime in question. It’s a matter of whether you have reasonable cause to believe that testifying might put you in danger from the government. See Ohio v. Reiner:

    We have held that the privilege’s protection extends only to witnesses who have “reasonable cause to apprehend danger from a direct answer.” That inquiry is for the court; the witness’ assertion does not by itself establish the risk of incrimination. A danger of “imaginary and unsubstantial character” will not suffice. Mason v. United States, 244 U. S. 362, 366 (1917). But we have never held, as the Supreme Court of Ohio did, that the privilege is unavailable to those who claim innocence. To the contrary, we have emphasized that one of the Fifth Amendment’s “basic functions . . . is to protect innocent men . . . ‘who otherwise might be ensnared by ambiguous circumstances.’ ”

    http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/532/17/case.html

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  16. Hal_10000 *

    Thanks Argive and Luctiel. The fifth amendment is indeed intended for broad protection.

    Let me give you an example. A friend of mine is a very active criminal defense attorney in central Pennsylvania. The one thing he emphasizes to clients, friends, acquaintances and random people on the street is that if you are being questioned by cops or especially federal agents, you keep your mouth shut until you have a lawyer. The minute he hears that a client has talked to the police, he knows he’s working on a plea bargain, not a trial. These guys are professionals, they get confessions for a living. Even if you haven’t done anything wrong, you keep your mouth shut (and with the feds, as Martha Stewart found out, you can easily be tricked into “lying to investigators”, which is a crime). Because when they say “anything you say can and will” they mean it. I just watched the documentary “Central Park Five” which was about how five boys gave “confessions” in the central park jogger case that turned out to be garbage (DNA testing cleared them after years in prison).

    Lois Lerner is testifying to Congress under oath. She’s testifying in public. Federal felony charges can be brought against her if she lies. She’s in a highly charged political environment. Even if she’s completely innocent, only an idiot of a lawyer would not advice her to exercise her fifth amendment rights.

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  17. louctiel

    Hal,

    You’re welcome.

    Here is an eerily similar scenario by Popehat on the same thing:

    Imagine this scenario, based on an actual situation:

    A business associate calls you and says, “my dear business associate, the shit has hit the fan; Federal Agency X is investigating Project Y we did together. Two Agency X agents are interviewing people.”

    “Oh coitus,” says you, or words to that effect, and terminate the conversation.

    Later that day, two well-dressed and polite agents of Agency X visit you. Because you despise me and want me to weep and gnash my teeth, you consent to be interviewed. At some point, they ask you “have you talked about this investigation with anyone?”

    “No,” you say.

    They smile.

    At the end of the interview, it occurs to you to ask, “Hey, am I in trouble? Do I need a lawyer?”

    The agents smirk. “No,” they say. “I mean, unless you lied about talking to anyone about this investigation.”

    See, you’ve fallen into a false statement trap, which I’ve talked about before. The feds know that you’ve talked to somebody about their investigation. They were probably standing next to your friend when he made that call this morning. And now you’ve talked your way into a felony.

    One of the things that has always bothered me is the idea of “what do you have to hide?” as in “what do you have to hide? Talk to us.” Or “if you have nothing to hide, let us search your car.” Or “If you have nothing to hide, let us in your home.”

    Those sentiments turn the idea of “innocent until proven guilty” on its head.

    There are some who think that should be the case (as shown in this thread.) In my opinion, those types of people always want the violations to be used against others and will scream bloody murder when the cop, the FBI, the IRS or DHS shows up on their doorstep looking to talk to them.

    Then suddenly the rights they so blithely dismissed for others matter.

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  18. Argive

    You’re welcome, Hal. When talking about the Fifth Amendment, I think we should remember that the people who came up with it knew a thing or two about tyrannical government. They were, after all, not that far removed from a time when Puritans faced a state that used torture to extract the names of other Puritans. And they also remembered quite well how Oliver Cromwell established and solidified his power. Is it any wonder that they might want to give broad protection against any form of self-incrimination?

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  19. hist_ed

    ” I just watched the documentary “Central Park Five” which was about how five boys gave “confessions” in the central park jogger case that turned out to be garbage (DNA testing cleared them after years in prison).”

    Sorry to get this a little off track, but the DNA testing proved that they did not ejaculate inside the victim. At the original trial, they knew that there was at least one other attacker. The fact that they found this one other attacker did not mean that the others weren’t there or did not participate.

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  20. hist_ed

    Gotta weigh in and say that of course the fifth applies to Congressional testimony and it’s the individual that gets to decide whether or not they should invoke.

    Now, as to whether she waived, that is thornier. If the idiot GOP (but I repeat myself) wanted to compel they should have done so last year right after she pulled her testify and then take the fifth move. You could try to hang this on the fact that this is the same Congress and they have been sorta continuously investigating this, but its muddy enough that the fight over it obscure things and make her a civil liberty martyr to some (and for fuck’s sake that’s the type of irony we need to stay away from).

    This is a great political bat to wield against Obama, so the GOP will keep the circus going (bet they see a spike in fund raising every time she appears). After the mid-terms, they should grant immunity and figure out what the hell happened. It’s beyond politics, one of the basic foundations of this country has been shat upon and we really need to know how.

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  21. Xetrov

    The Supreme Court has consistently held that the Fifth Amendment applies to the innocent as well as the guilty. It’s not a matter of whether you committed the crime in question. It’s a matter of whether you have reasonable cause to believe that testifying might put you in danger from the government.

    And yet with Lerner’s opening statement, stating she did nothing wrong and nothing illegal happened, there can be no danger from the government in testifying if she was telling the truth, so she doesn’t need fifth amendment protection.

    otta weigh in and say that of course the fifth applies to Congressional testimony and it’s the individual that gets to decide whether or not they should invoke.

    I largely agree, I was playing devil’s advocate since someone argued against my logic because the amendment “makes no claim” about the content of the testimony. Using just the words limits the protection to criminal cases, which this is not.

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  22. Xetrov

    I am sorry if you cannot (more likely will not) see that “case” and “trial” are not the same thing.

    You can claim that, but every legal dictionary I can find disagrees. Criminal Case is synonymous with Criminal Trial.

    Let’s go to the Federal Court’s own website.

    http://www.uscourts.gov/FederalCourts/UnderstandingtheFederalCourts/HowCourtsWork/CriminalCases.aspx

    The judicial process in a criminal case differs from a civil case in several important ways. At the beginning of a federal criminal case, the principal actors are the U.S. attorney (the prosecutor) and the grand jury. The U.S. attorney represents the United States in most court proceedings, including all criminal prosecutions. The grand jury reviews evidence presented by the U.S. attorney and decides whether there is sufficient evidence to require a defendant to stand trial.

    So a federal criminal case has a US Attorney (proesecutor), and a grand jury. Is there a US Attorney (or any type of prosecutor) in these proceedings? How about a grand jury? Hmmm. Using the actual wording of the amendment, which is what you wanted to do, a congressional hearing doesn’t apply to the definition.

    That being said, I think she can invoke the fifth for protection in this hearing. I just find it asinine to do so after claiming she did nothing wrong, that’s all I was trying to say.

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  23. Hal_10000 *

    Sorry to get this a little off track, but the DNA testing proved that they did not ejaculate inside the victim. At the original trial, they knew that there was at least one other attacker. The fact that they found this one other attacker did not mean that the others weren’t there or did not participate.

    The documentary argues quite persuasively that the evidence supported only a single attacker. And the guy whose DNA they found on her attacked another woman on his own. There was a zero physical evidence linking them to the crime. The only real evidence was their confessions, obtained after many hours of interrogation and immediately retracted.

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  24. louctiel

    And yet with Lerner’s opening statement, stating she did nothing wrong and nothing illegal happened, there can be no danger from the government in testifying if she was telling the truth, so she doesn’t need fifth amendment protection.

    At this point in time you are simply arguing against facts.

    She can take the Fifth in any investigation, case or trial whether you like it or not.

    You can claim that, but every legal dictionary I can find disagrees. Criminal Case is synonymous with Criminal Trial.

    You own citation says that a criminal trial is part of a criminal case. They are not the same thing. One is more encompassing than the other which is the point that was being made.

    That being said, I think she can invoke the fifth for protection in this hearing.

    Really?

    Let’s review the tape, shall we?

    March 5, 2014 6:30 pm at 6:30 pm (UTC -5)
    “If she did nothing wrong as she insisted in her first opening statement, then she can’t by definition plead the fifth. “

    March 5, 2014 7:30 pm at 7:30 pm (UTC -5)
    “By definition, she can only claim fifth amendment protection if she did in fact break the law, and thus can’t be forced to incriminate herself. So either she needs to say that she retracts her previous opening statement, and blanket takes the fifth, or she needs to answer the questions since there is nothing illegal about what was done. She can’t have her cake and eat it too.”

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  25. Xetrov

    At this point in time you are simply arguing against facts.

    At least your opinion of the facts. You have yet to provide a single legal definition anywhere for “criminal case” that is not synonymous with “criminal trial”.

    You own citation says that a criminal trial is part of a criminal case. They are not the same thing. One is more encompassing than the other which is the point that was being made.

    Absolutely not.

    Really?

    Really.

    Let’s review the tape, shall we?

    Review it again, where did I express my thoughts on the subject in either thing you quoted? Stating the defininition of something is different from expressing a view on something. Thanks for playing.

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  26. louctiel

    At least your opinion of the facts. You have yet to provide a single legal definition anywhere for “criminal case” that is not synonymous with “criminal trial”.

    Except for the fact that the words “case” is not the same as a “trial”…… Except for the fact that the Constitution never says they are the same…… Except for the fact that your own source that you quote says a case is more encompassing than a trial,…… you might be right.

    As it is, you are arguing against facts.

    Absolutely not.

    Well, no one can make you read and understand what you cited.

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  27. hist_ed

    I’ve kinda lost track of who is arguing what and with whom on our big semantic Constitutional imbroglio and, to be honest, start skimming some, but am now going to opine:

    “case” and “trial” are not synonymous (just asked the prosecutor wife to confirm this by the way). In criminal legal terms, a trial is part of a case. eg the rape case started when Bob Ewell complained to Heck Tate that Tom Robinson raped Mayella. The trial started later when case assembled by the prosecution was presented to the Maycomb jury (note the two slightly different definition of the word “case”). .

    And the Constitution doesn’t define either because it’s not a dictionary. It also does define the words “arms” “press” “age” or “be” because the Founders assumed that people understood English. Alas, they did not think about the fact that language changes over time.

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  28. richtaylor365

    Lerner taking the 5th doesn’t piss me off, with the government we have in place now, one so willing to stand the rule of law on its head and usurp power clearly forbidden by the Constitution, who can blame her? No, what pisses me off is;
    1) Her own emails label her a willing co conspirator and major player.
    2) The legal arm of the government, tasked to investigate malfeasance in this matter, has already rendered it’s verdict, while the investigation continues and while victims have not even been contacted and statements taken.
    3) The President, someone who says he is not involved, already rendered a verdict of ,”not a smidgen of corruption”, when he does not know what happened or who was culpable.
    4) But mostly that we now have proof that the government is using the IRS to target and punish people because of their political beliefs (you can’t get any Un American than that) and the majority of voters just don’t give a shit.

    I guess we really do get the government we deserve.

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