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:
—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.
—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.
—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.
—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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