TODAY   |  May 22, 2013

Former IRS official: ‘I did not lie’

As former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman answered questions under oath from senators, he refused to apologize to conservative and tea party groups the inspector general says were targeted by the IRS saying, “I am not personally responsible.” NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell reports.

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>>> meantime, in washington, there are new developments on the irs ' targeting of conservative groups. a top agency official will appear on capitol hill today, but she is refusing to testify. nbc's capitol hill correspondent kelly o'donnell has got the latest on that. kelly , good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, savannah. that's right, a top official for the first time will take the fifth, exercising her right to avoid self-incrimination. the house oversight committee tells me that lois learner, who was in charge of the division at the core of this controversy is still subpoenaed to appear, even after her lawyer says she will not answer any questions. and meanwhile, senators heard from another new witness, the former irs commissioner , but they were not satisfied with his answers. anger outside the irs headquarters in washington. and frustration inside the hearing room tuesday.

>> who did know? i mean, come on, you've read the report. you were acting commissioner. you were commissioner. come on.

>> reporter: former irs commissioner douglas schulman testified under oath.

>> i think i've said clearly that all this happened under my watch.

>> reporter: but shulman did not fall on the sword and refused to apologize to conservative and tea party groups the inspector general says were improperly targeted by the irs .

>> i certainly am not personally responsible for creating a list that had inappropriate criteria.

>> reporter: when he did learn about the investigation last year, shulman said he did not tell the white house .

>> i don't recall telling anyone about it.

>> reporter: his successor, steven miller , who has resigned, made a public apology, but also insisted he had not misled congress.

>> i did not lie.

>> reporter: senator orrin hatch pushed back that the irs should have notified congress to correct its past denials that targeting occurred.

>> mr. miller, that's a lie by omission. there's no question about that in my mind. it's a lie by omission.

>> reporter: and today, more questions will go unanswered. the lawyer for irs manager lois learner wrote to a house committee that she had not committed any crime or committed any misrepresentation, but under the circumstances, she has no choice but to take this course and that forcing her to appear would serve no purpose other than to embarrass or burden her. so far, the inspector general says he's found no evidence of criminal activity. the justice department is doing its own investigation, and we've now seen the first civil lawsuit , a texas-based conservative group is suing the irs and a number of those officials saying that its application has been waiting for three years with no answer. savannah?

>> all right, kelly o'donnell, there'll be some heat on the hill this morning, thank you.