Individuals have a broad right to refuse to testify before Congress by invoking the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, the Congressional Research Service explained last week.
“Even a witness who denies any criminal wrongdoing can refuse to answer questions on the basis that he might be ‘ensnared by ambiguous circumstances’.”
On the other hand, the scope of the Fifth Amendment privilege applies more narrowly when it comes to a congressional demand that a witness produce documents. “The Supreme Court has made clear that the mere fact that the contents of a document may be incriminating does not mean that the document is protected from disclosure under the Fifth Amendment.”
See The Fifth Amendment in Congressional Investigations, CRS Legal Sidebar, May 26, 2017.
Other new and updated products from the Congressional Research Service include the following.
President’s FY2018 Budget Proposes Cuts in Public Health Service (PHS) Agency Funding, CRS Insight, May 24, 2017