California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa told Fox News on Wednesday his House committee could move as early as next week to consider holding former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt.
Lerner refused earlier in the day to testify on her role in the agency’s targeting of Tea Party and other conservative groups.
Her decision to plead the Fifth Amendment marked the second time in 10 months that she asserted her constitutional right not to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said of her refusal, “at some point Lerner must testify” or be held in contempt.
“Our committee will consider it,” Issa, the committee chairman, told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren on “On the Record.”
“We could consider it as early as next week.”
Issa’s comments came just hours after he ended the rancorous committee hearing when Lerner refused to answer questions – a move that infuriated the panel’s top Democrat.
"I am a member of the Congress of the United States. I am tired of this," Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md, shouted into a turned-off microphone.
Cummings later told “On the Record” he was “trying to accomplish what [Issa] wanted to accomplish” and that the hearing came to an “extremely unfortunate” end. However, he suggested that Lerner will likely end up in court.
Issa rejected Cummings’ argument that he was trying to ask a question when the microphones were turned off, saying Cummings was attempting to “slander” the hearing as a partisan hunt.
During his “On the Record” appearance, Issa described Lerner as a “hub of activity,” regarding the targeting. And he said congressional investigators are still trying to learn who might have pressured her to act.
Republicans and others think the targeting was politically motivated because Democrats were upset with a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that allowed unlimited corporate and union spending on elections or against candidates.
Issa also said House investigators have yet to receive all of the related emails they requested from the IRS via subpoena and that he has sent another one to new IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to give him an “absolute straight chance” to help.
Issa suggested Koskinen’s failure to comply could result in the committee holding him in contempt, as they did with Attorney General Eric Holder for what GOP members consider Holder’s failure to turn over all information related to the federal government’s failed gun-tracking operation known as Operation Fast and Furious.
Lerner retired as the head of the agency’s tax-exempt-organizations division a few months after first appearing before the House committee in May 2013.