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Issa Lets Lerner Off the Hook

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: The IRS hearings today, the Issa committee. Folks, yesterday, after the Apple tax hearings at the Senate, I said, "This is all just a game," and I think this thing that happened this morning with Lois Lerner showing up... Issa basically let her get away with it. She's gone. He looked clueless, like didn't know what was going on, didn't know how to deal with this.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Okay, let me tell you what happened today at the IRS hearings. Lois Lerner, who ran the whole kit and caboodle and was... By the way, this was the first time I had a close-up look at her. This is an angry woman. You have to be very careful in making judgments about people based on physical appearance, although I've gotten really good at it. I can spot people out there and I can tell you who the libs are pretty much by just what I see. But, in this case, I already know that she is.

I already know that she's a liberal, I know that she is in the same mode as Barack Obama, and now I know this is a woman who's angry. This is the woman who was demanding to know the content of prayers of Tea Party groups that were applying for tax-exempt status. This is the woman who, in a deposition with Oliver North, was demanding to know what Pat Robertson said in a prayer about him. This is a woman obsessed with the Christian right, Lois Lerner. This is a woman obsessed with religious people.

By that I mean she is afraid of them. Angry at them. They are an enemy. That's obviously true now, based on what we know. This woman is the woman who said yesterday she's gonna take the Fifth Amendment. She was not gonna answer any questions. That caused a lot of people on the left to get very frightened. In fact, we got sound bites coming up. People on the left -- media people really -- are really worried this IRS scandal is gonna really, really amount to something bad for Obama.

Every day there's a new bit of information. Every day there's a new denial from the White House. Every day there's a new really sorry excuse for why Obama didn't know about it. The media is getting very, very worried. All of this is starting to sound very flimsy. Now you've got one of the head honchos out there claiming and taking the Fifth Amendment saying, "I don't want to answer this 'cause I could incriminate myself." That right there implies criminal activity here.

The regime has been doing everything it can to say, "No, this isn't a crime. There's no partisanship here. You know, it was some out-of-control, rogue employees in the Cincinnati office," and then it moved to the Washington office. But they've been doing everything they can to downplay the political aspects of this in terms of the partisanship. So this Lois Lerner babe shows up today, and I'm telling you: She is sitting there angry. It is obvious this woman is loaded for bear, in a partisan political sense.

She shows up -- I'm watching -- and she makes a statement. In her statement, she denies everything, and then takes the Fifth. She says she's not gonna answer anything. Darrell Issa, the committee chairman, basically said, "Well, okay. That's that, then!" But Trey Gowdy, congressman from South Carolina says, "Whoa, whoa! Wait a minute here. I agree with the ranking Democrat in this committee, Elijah Cummings: This is like a courtroom.

"She can't march in here and offer a statement and then issue a denial and then take the Fifth, Mr. Chairman. She's already testified, so she has waived her Fifth Amendment privilege because she testified." Issa responded (stuttering), turned off his microphone, consulted counsel, came back and asked her two more questions. She gave the same answer. (paraphrased) "I told you, I'm not answering anything, guys. I'm not gonna tell you anything.

"I'm not gonna answer one question you ask me about this." And Issa excuses her, and she and her lawyers get up and leave. I'm like everybody else watching this, "What the hell just happened here? We just let a witness go! So I'm waiting for some reaction from legal beagle friends of mine. I haven't heard back from any of them that I asked. But I want to know if Trey Gowdy's right. I want to know if he's got a point.

Lois Lerner shows up, she makes a statement, and then issues her denial, and then inserts or invokes her Fifth Amendment right -- which she's clearly free to do, but she's afraid it might incriminate her criminally. So the media's all concerned about this. They really are. "This is the worst thing that coulda happened to the regime," they're saying, "the optics of this." But there aren't any optics. Issa shoulda kept her there all afternoon and asked her a hundred questions and made her invoke the Fifth on every one of them!

That's how the Democrats would do it. There should be some discussion on whether or not she can show up and make a statement, and issue a denial, and then invoke the Fifth and get out of everything, get out of answering questions. Trey Gowdy said, "This can't happen! She's gotta sit here and answer our questions." By the way, the place erupted in applause when he said that. Let me play you the audio sound bites of this. We'll start with Lois Lerner herself. She sits down, she declares her innocence, and then clams up.

LERNER: I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee. And while I would very much like to answer the committee's questions today, I've been advised by my counsel to assert my constitutional right not to testify or answer questions related to the subject matter of this hearing.

RUSH: And she continued...

LERNER: After very careful consideration, I've decided to follow my counsel's advice and not testify or answer any of the questions today. Because I'm asserting my right not to testify, I know that some people will assume that I've done something wrong. I have not. One of the basic functions of the Fifth Amendment is to protect innocent individuals, and that is the protection I'm invoking today.

RUSH: Right. Well, this administration seems to not care about any amendment but the Fifth. First Amendment? To hell with that! Second Amendment? To hell with that! Third Amendment? They don't even know what it is. Fourth Amendment? To hell with that! Fifth Amendment, though? That really counts! "The Fifth Amendment, that's the big one! That's one we at the Obama regime believe in, because it is the Fifth Amendment that allows us to tell you to go to hell, and that we didn't do anything."

Trey Gowdy from South Carolina, after Lerner's remarks you just heard, said this...

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 right to Fifth Amendment privilege by issuing an opening statement. She ought to stand here and answer our questions.

GALLERY: (applause)

RUSH: I have to tell you, that sounds exactly right. This is highly inconsistent. She shows up and she makes a statement. She stated her innocence, she denied doing anything wrong, and then says, "(Raspberry) you! I'm not answering any questions," and Issa let her go. He asked her a couple of more questions. He seemed confused, turned off the mic, consulted his counsel behind him, and then came back and asked a couple more questions, and excused her.

Because she said a couple more times, "You can ask me all day long. I'm not gonna tell you anything." Can you do that? Can you show up and testify and assert that you didn't do it and then invoke the Fifth Amendment? I think, as I said, Issa shoulda kept her there and he shoulda asked her a hundred questions and made her deny and stroke the Fifth on every one. The fact that he didn't, folks, I'm sorry.

This is what makes me think all of this is sometimes just a game, with the Washington ruling class circling the wagons around each other and protecting themselves, but at the same time knowing that we out here have some expectations. So it's like the Apple hearings yesterday. "Okay. So, Apple?" There's a wink and a nod. "You guys show up, and the Democrats are gonna pontificate and rip to you shreds. They're gonna score some points with their base.

"You're a big, evil corporation. You're not paying your fair share. We'll let our Democrats get the chance to say so, and then we'll have somebody up here defend you. You guys say what you want to say, and then you head on back to Cupertino," wink, nod, "and the peasants have their circus. They get to watch their hearing, and everybody gets what they want, and there's no change after the hearing's over. Everything's hunky-dory; it may as well never have happened."

What do we have here?

We have this big buildup. "Okay, this babe is gonna take the Fifth Amendment!" She can talk about how it "asserts innocence" all she wants. That's not how it's interpreted. When you take the Fifth, it's apparently obvious to everybody you're trying to hide something, and you clearly don't want to testify against yourself. You don't want to give anybody the goods on you. If you're being charged with something, you're saying, "You prove it! I'm not helping you."

That's what the Fifth Amendment's all about.

Fine.

I just think if we're serious about this, she wouldn't be excused after two or three questions. She's gone now. Now you bring her back? On a related matter, where is Sarah Ingram? Why isn't she up there before this committee? Sarah Ingram is the Obama IRS official who is being promoted from this scandal to overseeing Obamacare from the IRS. She's not an innocent little bystander in all of this, either. Now, maybe she's on the witness list and maybe they're gonna call her there, but I haven't seen so.

So after Trey Gowdy made his remarks, Lois Lerner was asked two more questions by Issa.  Here's how that went.

LERNER:  I will not answer any questions or testify today.

ISSA:  Ms. Lerner, would you be willing to answer questions specifically related to the earlier statements made under oath before this committee?

LERNER:  I decline to answer that question for the reasons I've already given.

ISSA:  For this reason I have no choice but to excuse the witness subject to recall after we seek specific counsel on the questions of whether or not the constitutional right of the Fifth Amendment has been properly waived.

RUSH:  Okay, so he's gonna look into it. We're gonna find out, okay, we're gonna make sure here.  And if we find out that she has blown it then he reserves the right to recall her.  Fine.  This is just me, but I'm a warrior, and I woulda kept her there.  And I woulda kept making her invoke the Fifth.  "What do you have against conservatives?"  "Why did you think it was okay to deny them tax-exempt status when every liberal group at the same time is being granted it?" 

"I'm not gonna answer that, sir." 

"Why did you find it necessary to probe into whatever these religious Tea Party groups were praying about?" 

"I'm not gonna answer that, sir.  It's none of your business and I'm gonna invoke the Fifth Amendment here. I'm not going to tell you anything." 

"Why were you taking information that you were gleaning from these Tea Party applications and then sharing it with a Democrat media group called ProPublica?" 

"I'm not answering anything you ask me, Congressman.  You can ask me all day, I'm not answering." 

Just keep asking the questions.  And here's why.  I want you to listen to John Harwood, CNBC, used to be with the Wall Street Journal.  This is last night before all this happened. This is CNBC's Closing Bell, John Harwood, just so you know, is an in-the-tanker for Obama, as an MSNBC, CNBC in the tank for Obama.

HARWOOD:  This is probably the worst possible outcome from the White House point of view because the inspector general had said he did not see evidence of criminality in this scandal, but when she stands there, takes the Fifth and says, "To protect myself against self-incrimination I'm not gonna answer your question," that is the last thing the White House wants to see on television tomorrow.

RUSH:  What do you mean, the last thing they want to see?  They're the ones orchestrating this. The White House doesn't think anything's gonna happen with all this.  This is just a storm that they're gonna have to weather.  But they ultimately don't think that anything here is gonna happen.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: This Lois Lerner business, folks, about the Fifth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment is not meant to be used as a way to get out of answering questions.  The Fifth Amendment is clearly there to ensure that you don't have to testify against yourself.  In a criminal matter you are innocent until proven guilty, and they who charge you have to prove it.  You do not have to help them.  You do not have to confess. You do not have to admit it. You don't have to help them.  That's what the Fifth Amendment is.  The Fifth Amendment, "You're charging me, then you prove it.  I'm not gonna incriminate myself." 

But it's not meant to be used as a way of getting out of answering questions, particularly when you say first, "I haven't done anything wrong. I have not participated any criminal activity. I haven't done anything wrong."  Well, then why are you invoking the Fifth?  Just so you don't have to answer questions?  Sorry, it doesn't work that way.  I really hope that Issa does consult some legal counsel on this and realize here that he's gotta get her back in there, she can't -- no witness can -- well, a witness can if somebody's willing to let them get away with it, but that's the ultimate point.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: It is as I thought. The Fifth Amendment is not intended to be used as a sword and a shield. The Fifth Amendment is simply there to make sure they prove it. You do not have to incriminate yourself. But once you assert your innocence and once you say you didn't do anything wrong, you can't then use the Fifth Amendment to say, "I'm not answering questions." Any good prosecutor -- and that's what Issa has to be. This is a congressional hearing.

Even Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat said, "You gotta run this thing like a courtroom here." What he meant was, "We gotta be fair to the witnesses." Fine. Issa should run like a courtroom. Any prosecutor, which is Issa's role, has a jury! The jury is the rest of the committee. The jury is the American people. The jury is the media. You ask her every question related to every allegation, everything that went on in that IRS office about suppressing Tea Party application for tax-exempt status.

You make her invoke the Fifth Amendment if it takes all afternoon. Any prosecutor will tell you that the purpose in doing that is clearly the inference that the jury will draw. If a witness is gonna take the Fifth, you make them take the Fifth. You make them invoke it.; Not just once and then excuse them. Not just twice and then excuse them. You hammer 'em with it. Issa didn't do that, and I'm telling you, folks... I don't know. I've been watching this stuff all my life, intensely for 25 years.

In all candor, the government keeps getting bigger, and only on rare occasions do these government perpetrators get caught. Nixon, the House Bank Scandal. But in most of them, the perps get away with it. Clinton got away with it. Hillary continues to get away with it. Obama gets away with it. Lois Lerner got away with it. There really isn't a whole history here of success in these kinds of things. That's why, by the way, people keep going back and referring to Watergate.

It's the biggest and one of the few examples of this kind of scrutiny actually amounting to anything. The cynical view is it's just a game and it's the Washington ruling class circling the wagons and giving us all the circus that we want. But, at the end of the day, nothing changes. Everybody's still where they want to be when it comes to government. Lois Lerner? She's unharmed. She maybe quits or maybe not. Maybe she moves on somewhere else when it's all said and done. Who knows? 

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