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Lawmakers displeased with IRS official's refusal to testify

Wednesday - 5/22/2013, 3:50pm  ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Lois Lerner says she's "done nothing wrong" and hasn't "broken any laws." And she says she hasn't provided any false information to Congress.

But that is about all that Lerner is willing to say. She otherwise invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, and refused to answer questions from a House panel looking into the IRS targeting of conservative groups. Lerner oversees the IRS office that handles applications for tax-exempt status.

Nine minutes into the hearing, Lerner was excused. The panel's chairman, Republican congressman Darrell Issa (EYE'-suh) of California, said she might be recalled. He said he might explore whether she would testify later if given some immunity.

Issa and other members of the committee weren't pleased with her decision not to testify. Even before she spoke, Democrat Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts warned the witnesses that their refusal to cooperate would result eventually in the appointment of a special prosecutor.

Lerner is the IRS official who revealed the agency's targeting two weeks ago and apologized for it.

%@AP Links

195-c-19-(Jerry Bodlander, AP correspondent)-"broke no laws"-AP correspondent Jerry Bodlander reports the IRS official at the center of the targeting investigation refuses to answer any questions. (22 May 2013)

<> 00:19 "broke no laws"

197-a-14-(Congressman Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., at House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing)-"a special prosecutor"-Congressman Stephen Lynch says witnesses need to give the committee information so it can do its job. (22 May 2013)

<> 00:14 "a special prosecutor"

179-a-03-(Lois Lerner, head of the IRS tax exempt unit, testifying befire House Oversight and Government Reform committee)-"or testify today"-Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS tax exempt unit, invokes her Fifth Amendment right. ((cut used in wrap)) (22 May 2013)

<> 00:03 "or testify today"

GRAPHICSBANK: Lois Lerner, Director of IRS Exempt Organizations Division, sworn in before US House Oversight Committee hearing on IRS scrutiny of tax-exempt status requests, Washington, DC, graphic element on gray (22 May 2013)

APPHOTO DCCK101: IRS official Lois Lerner is sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 22, 2013, before the House Oversight Committee hearing to investigate the extra scrutiny IRS gave to Tea Party and other conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status. Lerner told the committee she did nothing wrong and then invoked her constitutional right to not answer lawmakers' questions. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) (22 May 2013)

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APPHOTO DCSA119: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., center, leans over to speak with Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 22, 2013, during the committee's hearing to investigate the extra scrutiny the Internal Revenue Service gave Tea Party and other conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., is at lower right, and Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-SC, is at lower left. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., listens at center left. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (22 May 2013)

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