RNC Chair On Lerner: You Don’t Plead The Fifth If You’re Innocent (VIDEO)

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said Thursday that embattled IRS official Lois Lerner did more harm than good when she opted to invoke the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions at a House committee hearing on the agency’s targeting of conservative groups.

During an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Priebus said that pleading the fifth “implies there are some criminal aspects” of the IRS scandal. John Heileman, a writer for New York Magazine who was sitting on the show’s panel, cried foul at that characterization.

“But you don’t need to plead the fifth if you’ve done nothing wrong,” Priebus said.

“That’s not true. That’s not what the Fifth Amendment says,” Heileman retorted.

Priebus ultimately toned down his interpretation of Lerner’s action, saying it “raises questions.” Heileman scoffed at the chairman’s suddenly vague assessment of the situation. 



Tom Kludt is a reporter for Talking Points Memo based in New York City, covering media and national affairs. Originally from South Dakota, Tom joined TPM as an intern in late-2011 and became a staff member during the 2012 election. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.