When House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa chose to abruptly end a committee hearing last week, he did more than rudely cut off Rep. Elijah Cummings.
According to independent legal analysis, Issa made it impossible to hold Lois Lerner in contempt for refusing to testify by walking out of the hearing.
Democrats on the Oversight Committee released this today:
The analysis was authored by Morton Rosenberg, who served for 35 years as a Specialist in American Public Law at the Congressional Research Service (CRS), and was joined by Stan Brand, who served as House Counsel from 1976 to 1983 and “fully subscribes” to Mr. Rosenberg’s legal analysis and conclusions. [...]
Based on their review of the Committee’s proceedings and relevant case law, these experts now conclude that in his rush to close down the hearing, Issa committed a “fatal” procedural error by failing to meet the prerequisites required by the Supreme Court to hold a witness in contempt of Congress.
Specifically, they conclude that by prematurely adjourning the hearing without first overruling Ms. Lerner’s Fifth Amendment assertion or directing her to answer the Committee’s questions, Issa failed to take the basic—and Constitutionally required—steps necessary to hold her in contempt.
After Lois Lerner asserted her Fifth Amendment right, Issa concluded that they were wasting their time and he walked out.
Cummings tried to move forward with proper procedure, as you may recall, but Issa cut him off.
Issa has virtually nothing to show for the past several years of successive witch hunts and today he is his own worst enemy.