Dem Spars with Oversight Chairman over House Counsel Advice on Lois Lerner

By Melanie Arter | June 28, 2013 | 12:07pm EDT

Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.) (AP Photo)

( – Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.) accused House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) Friday of trying to exclude some members of the committee from hearing House counsel opinion on whether suspended IRS employee Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights in a May 22 hearing on the IRS scandal by giving a statement beforehand.

“Although the chairman now indicates that members were supposedly allowed to see his requests for House counsel opinion, I’m looking at the email that went back and forth, which says, ‘I’d also ask that you not distribute it widely (like to all of your members),’” Tierney said.

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Issa insisted that members were allowed to see his requests for House counsel opinion.

“My question would be which one of the members over here – Mr. Cummings as minority – would you like not to see this? Would you not like to be fully briefed and informed before they made this decision? Which one of the members over here apparently have different status than members on your side who you apparently were willing to share this with in advance?” Tierney asked Issa.

Tierney called it “unreasonable and unfair,” that adding that it should not have happened.

“That kind of statement is offensive I think to people who might be included in that category on that basis,” he said.

“So we’ve not had ample time to have an exposition of all the facts. We have been deprived, because how was Mr. Cummings to determine which like to all of your members were applied on that.

“I see some eyes rolling over there, but the fact of the matter is…” Tierney said before Issa cut him off, asking for Tierney to yield his time so Issa could respond.

“I will in a second. I want to make this point as clearly as I can that I’m reading. It says, ‘The ramifications are bad for the House. I’d also ask that you not distribute it widely (like to all of your members).’ I will yield only if the gentleman wants to tell us which one of all of these members that the majority did not want to see that report,” Tierney said.

Issa: Will the gentleman yield?

Tierney: I’ll yield for that purpose.

Issa: I’m sorry that you’re offended that we offered any sharing of an opinion…

Tierney: I’ll reclaim my time. If you’re not going to answer what I yielded you to answer…

Issa: I am trying to answer your question. The fact is you’re saying you were offended. This was an opinion given to the majority on my request. This was the chairman’s request.

Tierney: He’s the House counsel. He gives an opinion to members of the House.

Issa: No, that is not correct.

Tierney: So which members over here did you not want to see that report?

Issa: The gentleman’s time is expired.

Tierney: Well the gentleman’s excuses are lame too.

Tierney said that legal opinion on both sides of the issue is conflicting. After the debate, the House voted that Lerner waived her right to invoke the Fifth amendment, in a vote along party lines.

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