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Boehner: Lawmakers to weigh criminal case against Lerner for 'misleading the Congress'

 

House Speaker John Boehner confirmed to Fox News’ Megyn Kelly Monday that lawmakers plan to press the Justice Department to consider a criminal case against ex-IRS official Lois Lerner for “misleading the Congress.”

Boehner also said if Lerner does not cooperate soon by providing information on the IRS targeting scandal, the House would hold her in contempt of Congress.

“Somebody at the IRS violated the law,” Boehner said on “The Kelly File.”

“Whether it was Lois Lerner or not, we’ll find out.”

A meeting of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to consider contempt is set for Thursday.

But before that, the House Ways and Means Committee will meet Wednesday to prepare a letter to the Justice Department citing possible criminal activity by Lerner.Formal notice was given Monday night by the committee to Attorney General Eric Holder about the referral for possible criminal prosecution of Lerner “based on evidence the Committee has uncovered in the course of investigation of IRS abuses.”

Fox News has learned the letter will argue Lerner violated the constitutional rights of citizens, gave misleading information to investigators and inappropriately released private taxpayer information.

The accusations generally relate to the scandal over the agency's practice of singling out conservative groups seeking non-profit status for extra scrutiny.

Boehner told Kelly that any criminal case against Lerner would be for “misleading the Congress.”

He said at the Ways and Means Committee’s Wednesday session, “they will go over this letter that they have put together outlining names of taxpayers who’ve been harmed and aggrieved and lay out a case for how Ms. Lerner misled the committee.”

He said he also expected that after Easter recess, Congress would take up a contempt resolution against Lerner. He added, “if she’s not going to tell us the truth, we are going to hold her in contempt. The House will vote. The House will hold her in contempt.”

Republicans argue that Lerner played a key role in the agency's practice of singling out conservative groups seeking non-profit status for extra scrutiny as head of the Exempt Organizations Division.

Criminal referrals from Congress to the Justice Department are rare -- and the Justice Department is under no obligation to pursue such a case.

The last major effort of this sort was in 2008, when the leaders of the House oversight committee sent a criminal referral to the Justice Department after they claimed baseball star Roger Clemens failed to tell the truth during a hearing about performance-enhancing drugs.

In that case, the department accepted the referral and prosecuted Clemens. He was eventually exonerated in court.

Asked for comment Monday on the latest pending referral, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said: "They're doing what they think is right, and I'm sure the Department of Justice is doing what they think is right."

Lerner, speaking before the House oversight committee last year, defended herself against the allegations in the IRS case.

"I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations," she said.

Lerner, though, refused to answer questions from the committee, and did so again last month.

In his interview with Fox News, Boehner also said House Republicans had not expanded ObamaCare last week with a voice vote to expand coverage choices for small businesses -- a departure from their strategy to try to dismantle or repeal the 2010 health care law.

Asked by Kelly about 2014 midterm election prospects, Boehner said he thought the GOP had a “a real good opportunity” to take the Senate and also to pick up seats in the House.

Fox News' Chad Pergram contributed to this report.