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Top IRS Official to Invoke Fifth, Issa Issues Subpoena

Head of tax exempt division has asked not to appear before oversight committee.

Lois Lerner, the IRS official who headed the tax-exempt division when the targeting of tea-party groups took place, plans to invoke her Fifth Amendment right to refuse to answer questions before Congress on Wednesday.

But Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House oversight committee where Lerner was to appear, has issued a subpoena to Lerner anyway.

The subpoena was delivered after the committee received the letter from Lerner's attorney, a committee aide said.

Her attorney, William Taylor, said in a letter obtained by National Journal, that Lerner had "not committed any crime or made any misrepresentation" but that she would decline to testify at a House hearing on Wednesday.

Taylor further asked for his client to be allowed not to show up at all. "Because Ms. Lerner is invoking her constitutional privilege, we respectfully request that you excuse her from appearing at the hearing," Taylor wrote to Issa.

Taylor had written that "requiring her to appear at the hearing merely to assert her Fifth Amendment privilege would have no purpose other than to embarrass or burden her."