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Opinion: Morning Examiner

Here's why Lois Lerner could be the Webb Hubbell of the IRS scandal

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Mark Tapscott,Morning Examiner,Tea Party,Hillary Clinton,IRS,Darrell Issa,Lois Lerner

Odds are solid that former IRS senior executive Lois Lerner will never appear before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to spill the beans on the IRS scandal. Webb Hubbell would be impressed.

Webb Hubbell? Those old enough to remember when Bill Clinton was in the Oval Office will instantly recall Hubbell as Hillary Clinton's former law partner. He went to jail after overbilling clients.

But Hubbell never talked after his conviction or while serving 21 months in a federal prison. He didn't talk after two further indictments, one that was thrown out and another that was plea-bargained.

Like the faithful "good soldier" of the Mafia inner circle who refuses to squeal because he knows there will be a reward at the end of his sentence for his silence, Hubbell kept his mouth shut about Hillary's law firm dealings, Whitewater, Bill Clinton's infidelity, everything.

Lerner won't squeal

There is an interesting parallel between Hubbell and Lerner. Rep. Darrell Issa, the oversight panel's chairman, issued another invitation this week to Lerner to return to testify before the committee about her role in the targeting and harassment of Tea Party and conservative non-profit groups seeking tax-exemption.

In her lone prior appearance before the panel, Lerner proclaimed her innocence in a brief opening statement, then took the Fifth Amendment. The panel's GOP majority say she waived her Fifth Amendment right when she claimed to have done nothing wrong.

Lerner recently offered through her attorney to testify if she was given a grant of immunity. Her attorney even provided a proffer describing the essence of her promised testimony, then subsequently claimed not to have heard back from the committee.

Tight as a drum

But the proffer talks went nowhere because the description of what Lerner would say if she received the grant of immunity broke no new ground, according to panel sources. The bottom line is that witnesses who don't provide critical new evidence don't get immunity.

Even so, Lerner is still trapped. On the one hand, she was deeply involved in it and was the first IRS official to admit the agency's targeting and harassment. On the other, how can somebody claim innocence while demanding immunity from criminal prosecution?

The only way out of the trap is for Lerner to give up somebody important higher-up. That path may lead straight to the Obama White House. There is no reason to think she will do that, based on her professional history. Look for her to follow the Hubbell example.

On today's washingtonexaminer.com

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Watchdog/Mark Flatten: Top VA official disputes Examiner's "scurrilous" report of mass purge of medical appointments.

Watchdog/Luke Rosiak: High-ranking Treasury employees swindled thousands of dollars, in-the-know bosses did nothing.

Columnist/Cal Thomas: GOP may benefit from Cruz control in 2014.

Columnist/Michael Barone: Protesters in Ukraine, Venezuela want the rule of law.

Columnist/David Freddoso: Larouche-allied Senate candidate gives Texas Democrats the wrong kind of blues.

Beltway Confidential/Philip Klein: Dave Camp tax reform proposal has flaws, but is a step toward a more substantial debate.

PennAve/Susan Crabtree: Conservative USC alums fight on over FCC newsroom study.

Legal Newsline/David Yates: Texas voters oppose state's chief justice after learning of his record, poll says.

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The Washington Post: New GOP tax plan would drop rates, popular deductions.

New York Daily News: Massive 82 percent of Democrats want Hillary Clinton to seek White House, poll says.

CBS News: Ousted Ukrainian leader said to be in Russia.

USA Today: Obama to detail new program to help minority youth.

CNN: Citizens United critic disturbs Supreme Court oral arguments.

Righty Playbook

Washington Free Beacon: EPA officials obstructed IG's fraud investigation.

The Daily Caller: "Sounding presidential," Joe Scarborough speaks in South Carolina.

The American Thinker: Obama's minimum wage ruse.

Bonus must-read

The Federalist: Conservatives will embrace libertarians when libertarians stop embracing government.

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Grist: Ride-sharing debate flares up across the country.

Salon.com: Camp proposes shockingly non-awful tax reform, is promptly shot down.

The Nation: Where have all the lobbyists gone?

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Mother Jones: The town Los Angeles drank.

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Legal Insurrection: KC cop shoots attacker while being beaten.

Hot Air: Now Barbara Boxer, Sheldon Whitehouse want cancer study to stop Keystone XL.

Blog Left

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America Blog: Are Dems who propose Social Security cuts stupid or doing risk-analysis?

Wonkette: Jan Brewer being uncrazy again.

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