Solyndra's Execs Take The Fifth

Sep 23, 2011
Originally published on September 23, 2011 6:11 pm
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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports.

YUKI NOGUCHI: The subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns said he'd called the two to testify last week. Their attorneys postponed their appearance, pledging at the time to answer the committee's questions.

CLIFF STEARNS: Unfortunately, we won't get those answers today. Mr. Harrison and Mr. Stover's counsel informed the committee three days ago that they would decline to answer the committee's questions and would invoke their rights under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

NOGUCHI: Here, Texas Republican Joe Barton.

JOE BARTON: I want to ask Mr. Harrison if he thinks the American people, who've invested over half a billion dollars, deserve to know what happened to that money?

BRIAN HARRISON: On the advice of my counsel, I invoke the privilege afforded to me by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution and I respectfully decline to answer any questions.

BARTON: I want to ask the same question to Mr. Stover.

WILLIAM STOVER: On the advice of my counsel, I invoke the privilege afforded by the Fifth Amendment...

NOGUCHI: Each time, the executives restated their intention not to answer questions. After several rounds of this, California Democrat Henry Waxman shot back.

HENRY WAXMAN: If they've asserted the Fifth Amendment there's nothing else we can do. And to badger them with questions that are simply soundbites for the press does not strike me as a fair way or a balanced way for the committee to conduct its business.

NOGUCHI: Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey.

ED MARKEY: The Republican majority is recklessly exploiting this one case to advance a political agenda that is very clearly aimed at killing the solar, wind, and renewable industries.

NOGUCHI: Colorado Democrat Diana DeGette noted the U.S. is already playing catch up with China in what she sees as an important industry in the future.

DIANA DEGETTE: We will have lost an opportunity to lead in what is arguably the largest and most pervasive technology sector in the world.

NOGUCHI: Yuki Noguchi, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.