Roger Clemens’ defense attorney hammered the baseball legend’s chief accuser Thursday, trying to portray the former strength coach as spinning an evolving tale to avoid jail.
As the cross-examination of Brian McNamee continued for a second day, Clemens’s lead lawyer Rusty Hardin quizzed the trainer about the timeline of steroid injections he says he gave the pitching star during a three-year period starting in 1998.
Clemens is charged with perjury, obstruction of Congress and making false statements for denying to a House panel in 2008 that he used performance-enhancing drugs. Lawmakers were responding to a report by former senator George Mitchell that named dozens of ballplayers, including Clemens.
In his questions Thursday, Hardin tried to use McNamee’s words against him. An autobiography the strength coach dictated to an author describes McNamee injecting Clemens’s wife, Debbie, with human growth hormone in preparation for a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue photo shoot.
Moments earlier on the stand, McNamee had said that he never connected the photo shoot with Debbie Clemens’s interest in using HGH.
“Those are not your words?” Hardin asked, referring to the manuscript of the book, entitled “Death, Taxes and Mac” – a reference to McNamee’s nickname.
“Not exactly. I don’t speak like that,” McNamee said, explaining that he was interviewed by a writer who actually penned the autobiography.
For a second day, McNamee appeared calm and generally unrattled by Hardin’s persistent questions. Even as McNamee was forced to concede that he had confused some dates and had initially minimized the number of injections he told law enforcement officials he gave Clemens, he was at times flippant.
“I’m just waiting for a question I can answer,” he said to Hardin.
McNamee has testified that he became a reluctant source for federal investigators after they discovered large checks he had written to a major steroid supplier for big league ballplayers. Law enforcement officials told McNamee he would not be a target of their investigation as long as he cooperated.
Throughout the day, Hardin suggested that McNamee was sticking to his story to appease the government and ensure he goes “home free.”
“When he finds out he’s got a problem with his testimony, he’ll plug in some additional fact,” Hardin said, explaining that he was trying to show how McNamee’s “memory gets better and better, and he just adds things.”
Several times during the trial, now in its fifth week, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton has chastised prosecutors and attorneys for their meandering questions. He has also dismissed two jurors for falling asleep during testimony.
On Thursday, Walton said jurors had expressed concern during a break about the length of the trial, which the judge said he expects to continue at least through June 8.
With jurors out of the courtroom, Walton also singled out Hardin’s line of questioning and said, “It’s confusing everybody, but I don’t think it’s making much of a point.”