Others who took the 5th: McGwire, Abramoff, North

Associated Press + More

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lois Lerner of the IRS joins a diverse roll call of people who have invoked Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination in refusing to answer questions at congressional hearings over the years.

A few of the well-known names:

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—Former St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire, sometimes choking back tears, wouldn't say in 2005 whether he had used steroids while hitting a then-record 70 home runs in the 1998 season. Years later, McGwire acknowledged use of steroids and human growth hormone.

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—Lobbyist Jack Abramoff refused to answer questions in 2004 about bribery and influence-peddling schemes that eventually led to more than 20 convictions of lobbyists, lawmakers, congressional aides and others. After serving a 3½-year prison sentence, Abramoff said most of the senators who lobbed questions at him that day were hypocrites who had taken thousands of dollars from his clients and firms.

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—Oliver North and John M. Poindexter, national security aides to President Ronald Reagan, initially pleaded the Fifth during the Iran-Contra hearings in 1986. They later testified under a deal that promised them limited immunity. That grant of immunity eventually would lead an appeals court to overturn their criminal convictions.

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—Playwright and screenwriter Lillian Hellman in 1952 was among those blacklisted because they refused to testify before Sen. Joseph McCarthy's communist-hunting committee. Other film industry figures who took the Fifth and were sentenced to jail for contempt of Congress became known as the "Hollywood 10."

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