This morning, two top executives of Solyndra, CEO Brian Harrison and CFO W.G. Stover, appeared before a House Energy and Commerce Committee investigative panel. They didn’t testify, however. They declined to answer every question put to them on the ground that the answers might tend to incriminate them.
The Fifth Amendment, which protects witnesses against self-incrimination, is pretty much an all-or-nothing thing. The witness can identify himself and perhaps answer a few background questions, but he cannot answer any substantive questions relating to the subject matter of the investigation. If he does, he waives his right to take the Fifth. Criminal defense lawyers, like those advising Harrison and Stover, take no chances. They won’t let their clients answer anything. So this is what it looks like when witnesses plead the Fifth:
Not good optics for the evening news, as far as the Obama administration is concerned.