Clemens Hearing Put Off By Month
Thursday, January 10, 2008
The much-anticipated congressional hearing featuring pitcher and accused steroid user Roger Clemens, his former personal trainer Brian McNamee and three others has been postponed until Feb. 13 to appease the Justice Department and to give a House committee investigating steroid use in baseball time to depose the witnesses beforehand.
The hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which will also feature former Clemens teammates Andy Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch and former New York Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk J. Radomski, had previously been scheduled for Wednesday.
The hearing on Tuesday featuring former Senate majority leader George J. Mitchell -- who authored an exhaustive investigative report into steroid use in baseball that fingered Clemens, Pettitte, Knoblauch and 89 others -- will proceed as scheduled. Commissioner Bud Selig and union chief Donald Fehr are also expected to testify at that hearing.
According to David Marin, the committee's minority staff director, the Justice Department told the committee it would be "helpful" if it delayed the second hearing until after Radomski's Feb. 8 sentencing on federal steroid distribution charges. Radomski was the primary source for Mitchell's report and allegedly sold the steroids and human growth hormone with which McNamee, according to Mitchell's report, injected Clemens at least 16 times between 1998 and 2001.
"This also gives us more time to delve into more recent developments, gather more information and depose all witnesses before they testify in public," Marin said in an e-mail.
Among those recent developments are a defamation lawsuit filed by Clemens against McNamee on Sunday night, more denials from Clemens in an interview with "60 Minutes" and during a news conference Monday, and the release of a 17-minute audiotape of a telephone conversation, which Clemens and his attorneys had secretly taped last Friday, between Clemens and McNamee.
The sudden appearance of the audiotape was a factor in delaying the hearing, according to a congressional source familiar with the matter, since committee members want to familiarize themselves with the tape's contents and depose Clemens and McNamee about it before the hearing.
Earl Ward, an attorney for McNamee, said he has also requested that the committee ask to listen to a tape of a Dec. 12 interview between McNamee and two private investigators hired by Clemens. In the interview, according to Ward, the investigators "tried to get Brian to recant." Ward said a staffer told him the committee would look into the tape.
"I thought it was important for [committee members] to hear," Ward said, "because if they're looking to make an assessment about Brian's credibility, it's something they should hear."
Rusty Hardin, Clemens's lawyer, said in a statement, "We are continuing to cooperate fully with the committee and Roger looks forward to one day testifying under oath in a public hearing."