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Official Says Treasury Department Had No Role in IRS Targeting

Lois Lerner, head of the IRS unit that decides whether to grant tax-exempt status to groups, listens on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 22, 2013.
The official at the center of the U.S. tax collection agency's targeting of conservative groups says she did nothing wrong and has invoked her constitutional right to not answer questions from a Congressional committee.

Lois Lerner, who heads the office that decides whether groups qualify for tax exemptions, invoked her right against incriminating herself Wednesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Before refusing to answer questions, Lerner told the panel she broke no laws and has provided no false information to lawmakers.

The committee is trying to decide whether the Internal Revenue Service's scrutiny focused on Tea Party and other conservative groups seeking non-profit status, was politically motivated.

Earlier, Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin testified his agency played no role in the IRS targeting. He said when he learned last year of an investigation of the IRS he told the inspector general to follow the facts wherever they lead and Treasury would stay out of the way.

Committee Chairman Darrell Issa opened the meeting by charging IRS officials who knew earlier about the targeting, did not tell Congress about it. He said "Congress was misled. The American people were misled,''

Lerner revealed the agency's targeting two weeks ago and apologized for the actions.