Updates 5:03pm

The IRS official who oversaw the unit responsible for the targeting of conservative groups has been placed on administrative leave with pay, a day after she refused to testify at a congressional hearing, Fox News confirms.

Capitol Hill sources said Lois Lerner, the director of exempt organizations, was placed on paid leave Thursday, amid calls from some lawmakers for her to be suspended or fired. In her absence, Ken Corbin, the current deputy director of the submission processing, wage and investment division, will take over her duties, according to an internal IRS memo obtained by Fox News.

Lerner, the official who first acknowledged the controversial IRS practice earlier this month, asserted her innocence at a House hearing on Wednesday. She then refused to testify, citing her Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination.

Republican leaders of that committee, though, now say she waived that right by giving a statement and want to haul her back to testify.

Pressure has been mounting on the administration to take tough action against Lerner, after two other IRS officials were pushed out in the wake of the scandal.

In a letter earlier Thursday to IRS Acting Commissioner Daniel Werfel, Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and John McCain, R-Ariz., asked the agency to remove Lerner from office and said they had “lost confidence in her ability to fulfill her duties.”

It’s unclear whether Republicans will succeed in trying to recall her before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the panel, said through an aide Thursday that her Fifth Amendment assertion is “no longer valid,” since she delivered remarks at the start of Wednesday’s hearing. That hearing was never technically adjourned, and Republicans hope to bring her back.

Others, though, say she was in her right to defend herself and subsequently invoke the right to remain silent.

The IRS has had a series of missteps that have not only publicly marred the reputation of the IRS, but also called into question what the White House knew about the scandal and when they knew it.

Separately, Tea Party-related groups who claim they were targeted by the tax agency have started filing lawsuits this week against the IRS. In some cases they are asking for the IRS to admit wrongdoing. In others, they are seeking monetary claims.

“It’s extremely troubling that it has taken this long for Lois Lerner to removed from the top exempt position at the IRS,” Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, the group suing on behalf of some Tea Party groups, said in a statement to FoxNews.com.

Sekulow said instead of putting Lerner on administrative leave, his group is calling for her to be fired.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.



Updated 3:51pm

Lois Lerner, the director of the tax-exempt organizations division at the Internal Revenue Service, has been placed on administrative leave, a congressional source familiar with the move confirmed.

Lerner revealed on May 10 that employees in the IRS’s tax-exempt unit in Cincinnati had improperly scrutinized applications from dozens of organizations.

On Wednesday, she invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to avoid testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.


IRS Official Lois Lerner has been placed on Administrative Leave. This is a developing story.