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Top IRS official pleads the Fifth during House hearing

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WASHINGTON (FOX19) -

Hearings continued on Capitol Hill Wednesday as members of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee delved further into the admitted targeting of conservative groups.

"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 any false information to this or any other congressional committee," IRS Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner told the committee. "Because I'm asserting my right not to testify I know some people will assume I've done something wrong. I have not. One of the basic functions of the Fifth Amendment is to protect innocent individuals and that is the protection I am invoking today."

Following her statement Lerner was dismissed subject to recall.

While Lerner did not testify, Holly Paz, the former manager of the Cincinnati Determinations Unit did answer committee questions on Tuesday.

"We were shocked to find that Ms. Paz participated in virtually every one of the interrogations or interviews with her own subordinates," committee Chairman Darrell Paz said during the hearing.

He later went on to question the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration about whether it is routine to let the "target" of an audit sit in so they know the questions and answers when they later maybe a "target of misconduct".

"In hindsight, given this matter, obviously seems somewhat unusual, I need to do a little more research," J. Russell George responded.

During the audit interviews George says it was never revealed how the targeting began.

"We have had some difficulty in terms of getting clarity from some of the IRS employees we've interviewed," George responded to a question posed by California representative Jackie Speier.

Ultimately the Inspector General's audit points the finger up the chain.

"There was very inadequate training of the people who were handling these applications and I do fault the IRS for that," George testified.

George explained that part of the issue in getting answers was that an audit was conducted an not an investigation and as a result workers were not under oath and interviews may not have been handled under the same guidelines.

The committee chairman says he is looking into whether Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment right when she addressed the committee with a statement. 

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