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US tax official: 'I did nothing wrong'

 Several dozen tea party activists and other concerned citizens, wave signs and small American flags as they march outside the main Internal Revenue S...

IRS Political Groups

Several dozen tea party activists and other concerned citizens, wave signs and small American flags as they march outside the main Internal Revenue S...

The U.S tax official at the center of the storm over the collection agency's targeting of conservative groups told Congress on Wednesday that she had done nothing wrong in the episode, and then invoked her constitutional right to refuse to answer lawmakers' questions.
In one of the most electric moments since the tax controversy erupted nearly two weeks ago, Lois Lerner defended herself during a brief appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The committee is investigating the agency's improper targeting of tea party and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, and Lerner oversees the office that processes applications for that status.
"I have done nothing wrong," said a stern-looking Lerner, sitting next to three other witnesses and reading from a written statement. "I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations and I have not provided false information to this or any other committee." The IRS is the internal Revenue Service.
Lerner then said she would invoke her constitutional right to avoid incriminating herself. Nine minutes after she began speaking, Darrell Issa, the Republican committee chairman, excused her and Lerner left the hearing room through a rear door, escorted by her lawyer and several other men.
The men quickly whisked Lerner into an elevator, where several of the men physically pushed back television camera operators who were trying to film them.
Lerner's refusal to answer questions was not a surprise. Her attorney, William W. Taylor III, wrote a letter to the committee this week saying she would do so.
Lerner revealed the agency's targeting two weeks ago and apologized for the actions.
Republicans have used the scandal to attack President Barack Obama as he tries to push through his second-term legislative agenda ahead of next year's elections for Congress. The controversy also has breathed new life into the small-government tea party movement, whose influence had been waning.