Over at NRO’s Corner, Attorney Hans A. von Spakovsky explains the misuse of the Fifth Amendment by Solyndra executives at last Friday’s congressional hearing and in doing so, he gives us an excellent lesson on the Amendment. His explanation also clears the smoke that Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.) was blowing in an attempt to hide any executives’ wrongdoings. The pleading of the Fifth by the executives is also shown to be a directional arrow pointing to all the possible criminal violations that may have occurred.
From NRO’s Corner
…two executives of Solyndra, the bankrupt solar energy company, pled the Fifth to avoid answering questions about how the company wangled a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy…Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.) jumped to their aid. He protested when other members of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation continued questioning the witnesses after they had asserted the privilege. “It’s unseemly and inappropriate for members to be asking questions that you now know they will not answer,” Waxman claimed.
Waxman’s assertion that it was inappropriate for members to continue asking questions is…legally incorrect…Generally, it cannot be asserted to avoid answering questions in a purely civil matter…when a witness invokes the Fifth Amendment, he can use it only to avoid answering specific questions that will incriminate him or potentially link him to possible criminal liability. He cannot use it to avoid answering questions because he fears being embarrassed by his answer or because he believes it will cause political damage…The subcommittee members had the right to continue to ask Harrison and Stover questions…You can’t use the Fifth Amendment to avoid answering “political questions”… By refusing to answer certain specific questions, the Solyndra executives told us that they believe they are risking criminal liability…
Read it all here: Misusing the Fifth Amendment