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Hannity

A message to the IRS: What is so dangerous about the truth?

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," May 22, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And this is a Fox News alert, the top IRS official who invoked the Fifth Amendment earlier today and refused to answer questions before the House Oversight Committee may be called back to Capitol Hill to testify. Now, this bombshell development comes to us courtesy of Chairman Darrell Issa, who argues that lowest learner waived her Fifth Amendment rights by delivering this opening statement. Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOIS LERNER, INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE OFFICIAL: I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations. And I have not provided false information to this or any other Congressional Committee. And while I would very much like to answer the committee's questions today, I've been advised by my counsel to assert my constitutional right not to testify or answer questions related to the subject matter of this hearing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: All right. So, is this a major legal misstep on the part of Lois Lerner and her attorneys? Now, a number of congressmen, including South Carolina's Trey Gowdy, they actually believe it was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TREY GOWDY, R-S.C.: She just testified. She just waived her Fifth Amendment right to privilege. You don't get to tell your side of the story and then not be subjected to cross-examination. That's not the way it works. She waived her right to the Fifth Amendment privilege by issuing an opening statement. She ought to stand here and answer our questions.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Now, unfortunately, moments later, Lerner repeatedly refused to answer any questions regarding the tax agency's targeting of conservatives, and as a result, she was ordered to leave the room by Chairman Issa.

However, the former commissioner of the IRS Doug Shulman, Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George and the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Neal Wolin, they didn't get off so easily. And because you probably were not able to watch the hearing in its entirety, as usual, we did it for you. We have all of the highlights. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JIM JORDAN, R-S.C., HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: You sure you didn't talk to anyone at the White House about this issue, Mr. Shulman?

DOUG SHULMAN, FORMER IRS COMMISSIONER: About singling out conservative groups for special scrutiny?

JORDAN: Well, that's what we're talking about, isn't it?

SHULMAN: Absolutely sure, I did not talk to any --

JORDAN: Hundred and eighteen visits, it didn't come up with a casual conversation after 132 members of the Congress contacted you about it? You sure you didn't bring it up with anybody at the White House?

SHULMAN: Not to my memory.

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY, D-VA.: What would be some of the reasons you might be at the White House?

SHULMAN: The Easter egg roll with my kids.

CONNOLLY: I just want to be clear, you're very aware of the fact you're under oath today?

SHULMAN: Yes. Very aware of that.

JORDAN: You went to the White House 118 times. One of the key subjects you talk about was the implementation and the enforcement of the Affordable Care Act --targeting of groups that came into existence because they opposed the Affordable Care Act, and you never brought it up in any of those conversation and all those visits to the White House when this is a major topic of conversation?

SHULMAN: No, I did not.

This happened on my watch. I do not accept responsibilities for all the actions taken by all the people outlined in the report.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Well, I am deeply disappointed in your answer.

J. RUSSELL GEORGE, TREASURY INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR TAX ADMINISTRATION: Sir, can I get --

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No, you can't get back to me. I want to know. He just whispered something into your ear. What did he say?

This is just so frustrating to me. You know, the whole question here is, we've heard this from time to time, just about accountability, and in all the scandals, we hear the same thing -- it wasn't my job, I don't know, it was the other office, I was recused. I didn't find out about it until you found out about it. Where does the accountability begin?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You knew this before the election?

SHULMAN: What's that?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You knew this before the election?

SHULMAN: Sometime in the spring of 2012.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: OK. That would be before the election, I believe. You did know there was an election going on that year.

SHULMAN: Excuse me.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You did know there was a presidential election.

SHULMAN: I'm aware that there was an election.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: OK.

GOWDY: You still don't know that this was political?

SHULMAN: Excuse me?

GOWDY: You still don't know that this was political?

SHULMAN: I'll defer to the inspector general.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Well, I'll tell you this Mr. Shulman, your predecessor said that he wasn't sure if it wasn't partisan, and that requires the listener to be as stupid as the speaker.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Wow.

Now, I would ask Lois Lerner, Doug Shulman and the rest of the officials who are in leadership positions at the IRS when all this was going on, one simple question, what is so dangerous about the truth? Don't the American people deserve answers? Don't they deserve the truth? To me it's that simple.

And joining me now with reaction to today's hearing, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, California Congressman Darrell Issa and House Oversight Committee member, Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan. Gentlemen, thank you for being with us.

REP. DARRELL ISSA, R-CALIF., HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Thanks for having us on, Sean. And thanks for covering this important hearing.

HANNITY: It's very important. Mr. Chairman, did Lois Lerner, by giving that opening statement, do you believe that she waved her right -- Fifth Amendment right?

ISSA: Well, Sean, when Trey Gowdy raised a point of order that she had waived her right, I have to take it seriously. We have referred it to counsel. It does appear as though clearly under precedent her making these statements, these denials on the subject for which she was subpoenaed in addition to some other documents she authenticated afterwards, crosses the line by quite a bit. Again though, we want to make sure we go to counsel, we get independent adjudication, if you will, of this question. But we recessed the hearings so that we have the right to call her back.

You know, Sean, there's one thing, there's the bigger problem though, is if she waived her rights as we believe she did, and Trey Gowdy made a motion that she did, the same thing will hound her in criminal investigations, Department of Justice, anywhere else she goes. If she's committed some sort of a crime, she's waived her right to criminal prosecution, which is different than us, but same problem.

HANNITY: Mr. Chairman, if she in fact didn't waived that, does that mean that she were still refuses to testify that she would be held in contempt of Congress?

ISSA: She could be held in contempt. Ultimately we are fortunate that most people come voluntarily before committee and whistleblowers, people who go to government oversights, you know, blowthewhistle.com link in fact are coming forward, including a lot of this Tea Party groups that want to make their records available to the committee, so that we can act on their behalf.

So, a lot of the activities we're going to get, a lot of the information we're getting out of whistleblowers and voluntary witnesses. We're deeply disappointed. We're hoping she'll reconsider in light of potentially waving her Fifth Amendment rights.

HANNITY: Congressman Jordan, you brought up the issue today of this 118 visits. And some of it, I guess you brought up was to talk about ObamaCare, the Affordable Care Act. Were you as stunned as I was when asked what some of these visits were about? And then the answer was, well, I was there for the Easter egg roll with my kids?

JORDAN: Yes, 118 visits, Sean. And we know a substantial number of them were about the Affordable Care Act, about ObamaCare. And I think, we have to go back to where it started, March of 2010, the very month ObamaCare became law. This agency starts targeting conservative groups who came into existence because they opposed ObamaCare. So, it all started in March of 2010.

And now, you have Shulman going to the White House 118 times in 2010 and 2011. What was he talking about? He had to be talking about ObamaCare a lot. In fact, he admitted that under oath today. So, in any of those conversations, did you talk about that's scandal going on? Because remember, he did find out about the key identifying words, Tea Party, 912, and patriot, he knew those were part, being used to develop this list last year. So, at some point, you would assume he talked to somebody at the White House about this, but he kept saying, no, he didn't.

HANNITY: Well, let me ask a follow up about this. Because Mr. Shulman did testify before Congress in March 12th, I believe, of 2012, when he was asked about this very issue.

JORDAN: Yes.

HANNITY: He said, absolutely it is not happening. But we now know that they knew six months before this election that in fact this had occurred, and he never went back to the committee, he never revised, extended his remarks?

JORDAN: Never corrected his remarks. And he used this language -- he said, I can assure you that nothing is going on, nothing politically focused going on, targeting conservative groups. He used the terms "I can assure you." So, that's pretty strong language. And then when he finds out it was, and he doesn't correct the record, that's a problem. And of course, he had a lot of questioning about that issue.

HANNITY: All right. There was an issue, Chairman Issa, where it was a bipartisan letter signed by Chairman David Camp, and Sandra Levin of the committee -- the Ways and Means Committee -- and they requested from the White House that documents and information be sent over to them by yesterday. Now, they've apparently decided that they're not going to send it over, at least not in a timely fashion. How troublesome is that to you? And do you think this is part of a delay tactic?

ISSA: Well, there are three things that are troublesome. First of all, this White House's attitude is they don't have to give us anything unless it serves their spin. Secondly, everyone up and down the line, if you're a political appointee, seems to have amnesia. I think it's sort of Obama amnesia. Mr. Shulman was a good example. He must have said, "I don't remember" enough times, if I had a nickel for each time, I could pay often the national debt.

And the last one, and the most troubling one, is people seem to think they don't know. We heard management up and down claiming they didn't know, and even if they were briefed they didn't remember or it wasn't in enough detail for them to know. This pattern of irresponsibility, lack of administrative attention, begs the question of why do we have all these political appointees if they find a way to not know what's going on, but take full responsibility for anything good that happens.

HANNITY: All right. Let me ask you both, and I want to set the table for this question, the White House denied that they had any knowledge of this, that they found out about this through news reports, that was their original story. By my account there are five now variations and shifting and changes to that story. We now know the president's attorney, the White House counsel, and we know that the chief of staff in the White House to the president, both did know earlier than what we were told, and we discovered that the White House was involved in working with the Treasury to leak this story before the IG report.

ISSA: Right.

HANNITY: I want to get both of your reactions to that. Congressman Jordan, we'll start with you.

JORDAN: Well, you're exactly right, Sean. They were so calculating, they orchestrated the rollout, they orchestrated how they were going to break this story to the American people, because they knew the IG's report was coming. So, people at Treasury, people at the White House, people at the IRS, are choreographing how they're going to do this. But yet a year ago, two years ago, when it was all going on, the 132 members of Congress inquire about it, 118 visits to the White House, numerous news reports, nobody knows anything.

And yet when they have to actually present it, because now it's here, oh, they're choreographing that, and they're planning, they're spinning, they're scheming how they're going do it. That just again causes the American people to say something is not right here.

HANNITY: Chairman Issa, did they lie when they said that, oh, we don't know anything in the White House, and now we know that in fact a lot of high ranking people did and they helped coordinate those talking points.

ISSA: Well, exactly right. The president doesn't know, because apparently he has a pattern of not knowing or being told anything. But people in the White House were briefed, even by the IG, and very, very clearly they were part of spinning this ahead of time. And the IG, Russell George actually said, the way it was done may be a violation of the law.

HANNITY: Wow. Do you think they purposely lied or too early to tell?

ISSA: They purposely don't want to know things. And if knew them, then they're lying about not wanting to know them. We just don't think they could be so dumb as to not know so much.

(LAUGHTER)

HANNITY: I think, that's a mouthful.

All right. Mr. Chairman, thank you. This is important. The American people need to know that the IRS is not out there intimidating them because of their political views, and their associations, and very dangerous stuff. So, thank you both for what you're doing. Appreciate it.

JORDAN: Thank you.

ISSA: Thank you.

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